Isaiah Rashad is absolutely simmering on The House is Burning.
Listening to the record, the Tennessee rapper’s second full LP and his first project in a half-decade, it’s really easy to be lulled by the album’s laid-back exterior and the cool, torpid production, but diving in deeper reveals uneasy tensions, sobering reflection, celebration of life over addiction, and ruminations on being a bit of a recluse signed to a West Coast label that’s home to a superstar.
While I enjoyed a few tracks here and there off his previous efforts, 2014’s Cilvia Demo EP and 2016’s The Sun’s Tirade, I’ve been feeling this record. Rashad has an energized, staccato style of delivery which melts into the low-key beats, creating a lucid feeling. Rashad delivers like he’s got a handle on the madness around him, even though there’s a ton of shit pulling and tugging at his strings. He won’t break, but he’s got some things to get off his chest.
Buoyed by a fantastic vocal sample of the Memphis legend Project Pat, “RIP Young” is one of the more uptempo moments on the record and a slick one at that. Employing a snappy Southern rap-inspired sound, Rashad does the damn thing nicely, reminiscing on the wild shit he’d get into the on streets, the dealing and taking of illicit substances, and relishing his come-up. He’s definitely about his business.