Art by DeShaun Craddock
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Will Schube turned the coupe to a casket.
One of my favorite bits of rap inside baseball is the theory that Isaiah Rashad is quite possibly―maybe―the best rapper in TDE. Not the rapper with the best discography, mind you. That clearly belongs to Kendrick and ScHoolboy has a deeper catalogue too, based purely on the number of albums he’s released. The Chattanooga-born rapper and producer seems almost willfully opposed to a consistent release schedule, with his last album being 2016’s outstanding The Sun’s Tirade. It’s his only official LP, too, although Cilvia Demo from 2014 packs a healthy number of outstanding ideas into an EP-disguised-as-an-album.
With only a handful of songs to go off, it’s impossible to say Isaiah will ever have the cultural appeal or hits like Kendrick does, but that’s precisely what makes his long absences all the more tantalizing. The talent is there every time he shows up.
His first new music in forever comes in the form of “Why Worry,” a two-and-a-half minute track that’s a part of TDE’s week of new music. Most of the songs were from up-and-comers, but Isaiah just up and dropped one of the best singles of the year.
Canadian producer Crooklin provides a delightfully lush beat filled with old-school soul horns and a pitch-shifted vocal sample. Rashad sounds as energetic and engaged as ever; dude raps his ass off throughout the track’s entire runtime. His biting, almost raspy delivery comes with a preternatural melodicism, and on “Why Worry” his voice is a superball in search of another wall to keep its bounce going. It’s almost unfair how easily Isaiah Rashad can drop in and absolutely obliterate any beat he’s given, and all it does is increase the desire for a new album to a ridiculous degree. The potential is endless, but potential never turns into a gold plaque or statue on its own. I doubt Isaiah Rashad gives two shits.