September 23, 2013

Alex Koenig wrote this down by the river.

When Isaiah Rashad released “Gusto” alongside Brian Cameron in early January, it came off as a celebratory cocktail of creativity and kief– fun, but not suggestive of what the 21-year-old MC was capable of. “Shot U Down” is Rashad’s first capital-M Moment, and its video suggests that his dreams are igniting under the skyline of his Chattanooga hometown. The first minute chronicles a humble beginning of walking through a neighborhood lined with bungalow brick houses, shuffling dominoes and swigging malt liquor with friends. Rashad aspires for fame yet is grounded by humility. “Road to the riches still paved with the ditches / Get caught up in the hype, your career is for a night.”

It’s a call to arms to his career, and a calling out of corny rap posturing. “We don’t wanna hear that weak shit, nigga speak up / rocking old flows, corn rows, and a beeper,” he snorts. The production provides a balance to Rashad’s stormy snarl, a soulful backdrop of jazz guitar, airy flute, and pattering drums that go down as easy as southern comfort food. Near the end of the video, Rashad struts through the streets as a car packed with his entourage trails behind. He waves his arms in the air as if in complete command of the steering wheel. Cue the Kendrick co-sign, and suddenly TDE may have its new Tennessee controller.

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