Isaiah Rashad – The Sun’s Tirade
Top Dawg Entertainment’s secret weapon, Isaiah Rashad, has finally come through with his major label debut, the scintillating The Sun’s Tirade. Quickly gaining recognition amongst the hip-hop fraternity with his 2014 EP, Cilvia Demo, Rashad looked set to be the next big thing, but an addiction to alcohol and prescription pills put a dent in his career. He was sent away to get help by TDE Co-president Dave Free and after getting clean, returned to the studio to put the final touches on The Sun’s Tirade, one of the best debut releases of the year.
Taking the influences of Southern pioneers such as Outkast, Goodie Mob and Scarface and combining them with his own approach to hip-hop, The Sun’s Tirade is a mesmerising debut that plays to Rashad’s strength as an innovative lyricist, willing to tackle heavy subjects in his rhymes. This type of introspective lyricism is imprinted all over the album, none more so than on the Kendrick Lamar collaboration Wat’s Wrong. Over D. Sanders and Al B Smoov’s soulful production, Rashad details his struggles with fame and success and the feelings of homesickness he suffers from since moving to LA, while Lamar once again demonstrates his unmatched ability on the mic as he questions Rashad’s reasons for rapping and informs him to use his voice to promote a message of positivity. Rashad goes on to discusses his battles with alcohol on AA, dedicates an entire song to his Grandma (Brenda) who passed away before the release of Cilvia Demo, and hooks up with SZA for Stuck In The Mud, a song touching on the drug and mental struggles he’s had over the past few years.
It might all sound a little depressing, but the album is far from Rashad wallowing in his own self-pity. He flexes about the wealth his success has afforded him on the Mike WiLL Made It and Pluss produced A Lot, while the albums first official single, Free Lunch, finds Rashad urging you to make the most of your opportunities over a soulful Cam O’bi beat.
The Sun’s Tirade lives up to all expectations, and while controversial, it might just be the best TDE release of 2016.
Verdict: Buy it.
Northeast Party House – Dare
I’ve always thought of Melbourne’s Northeast Party House as our own version of Bloc Party, and that opinion hasn’t changed with the release of their sophomore album Dare. Building upon the indie meets dance hybrid of debut, Any Given Weekend, this new album follows that same path, with a dose of tropical flavours added to their burgeoning electronic musings.
If you’ve heard first single, For You, a buzzing synth heavy arrangement that’s the perfect late night party starter, then you know what to expect with Dare. The feel-good electro-indie vibes are present on the guitar focused Love Machine, festival anthem Calypso Beach, funky Your House and personal favourite For You, a slower, melodic house infused track.
Self-produced by the band, Dare was also mixed and mastered in-house by drummer Malcolm Besley, so fans of the Northeast Party House will certainly enjoy the shiny, striking sounds the album delivers. While certainly a step in the right direction, the album doesn’t really offer up anything we haven’t heard before. Maybe by experimenting with a producer not familiar with their work they might be able to elevate themselves to another lever.
Verdict: More of the same but certainly worth a listen.
B.o.B. – A.I.R. (Art Imitates Reality)
A.I.R. (Art Imitates Reality) is the fourth and final instalment in B.oB.’s controversy-filled Elements mixtape series. Following on from W.A.T.E.R. (We Are The Enemy Really), F.I.R.E. (False Idols Ruined Egos) and E.A.R.T.H. (Educational Avatar Reality Training Habitat), this latest mixtape continues to find B.o.B. commenting on such subjects as the environment, racism, politics and social issues effecting the black community.
All 11 tracks are produced entirely by B.o.B., including new features and an interesting selection of samples. Masters Of War samples the song of the same name from the legendary Bob Dylan, while Stanley Kubrick contains audio of NASA officials discussing the moon landing, along with The Police‘s Walking On The Moon. It’s safe to say B.o.B. has questions regarding man walking on the moon, which isn’t much of a surprise after he claimed the world was flat earlier this year.
War Witch incorporates a Spanish beat as B.o.B. goes in at authority and the problems with the US government. The autotune heavy Negative Space tackles failing relationships and opener, Fingerprint, a hard hitting pop-rap number that’s more akin to the sounds of his debut album, B.o.B. Presents: The Adventures Of Bobby Ray.
B.o.B. might not be the star he was when first launching his career, but A.I.R. is another example of his skill as not only a rapper, but a producer. Hopefully he’s next major release can live up to the potential shown across the Elements mixtape series.
Verdict: A good reminder of what B.o.B. is capable of.