Isaiah Rashad’s Cilvia Demo was our introduction to TDE’s new signee. What was originally supposed to be a demo tape turned into Isaiah’s debut project where we got a full serving of what the Tennessee representer had to offer. Anything that comes from hip hop’s most coveted crew is going to have high expectations so it was interesting to see what Isaiah was all about.
My personal favorites from this album were “Soliloquy,” “Heavenly Father,” and the Jay Rock and Schoolboy Q assisted “Shot You Down (Remix).”
“Shot You Down” is an aggressive banger that captures you from the beginning lines.
I take a drag at the square, I feel anxious, spit dangerous
As the verbal appears, is reflecting my perspective
Beer goggle and fear, roll model so hollow
Shadow adolescence and a gaggle of them bitches
Road to the riches still paved with the ditches
Get caught up in the hype, your career is for a night
– Isaiah Rashad, “Shot You Down (Remix)”
Isaiah goes for broke on this one with a delivery that makes you feel like he had to get this all off of his chest. Jay Rock and Schoolboy Q shine as they give us more of their respective stories. Jay Rock’s tales from the hood brings us a little bit closer to how dangerous his day to day was as a member of the bloods, and Schoolboy has a stellar verse which may be the best on the album as he gives us his rags to riches tale and ends it with a tribute to his daughter, Joy.
Pull up to the block and they call me real nigga
See I can be a real nigga, but my daughter see me bigger
See a body full of love and yours full of liquor
But you’ll always be my nigga, said you’ll always be my nigga
– Schoolboy Q, “Shot You Down (Remix)”
I also enjoyed “Soliloquy.” “Soliloquy” was an east coast friendly song with Isaiah giving us a stream of consciousness flow. He touches on everything from his tainted relationship with his father to simply enjoying Vince Vaughn movies over some wild pianos that work in their dissonance.
Immaculate, this scatter rapping, no passing my blunt
Don’t you put me on freshman covers, I’m posing with lunch
Think they worthy of presence presently passing ’em up
No competing with bleachers jogging I’m running a muck
– Isaiah Rashad, “Soliloquy”
Our panel had mixed feelings about a lot on the album, and we touched on “Ronnie Drake” to expand on this point. We loved how Isaiah touches on heavy issues throughout Cilvia Demo, “Ronnie Drake” brought the use of the “N” word to the table, judging others, and being black in America. Isaiah does his job as a rapper, but it’s the production that turned us off. The melancholy tone was a bit too laid back for the matter at hand and takes a song that could’ve been a very important record and devalues it.
It leaves something to be desired, and makes a nicely written song very forgettable. The same can be said about much of the production on the album. Isaiah wants to give us these pieces of him about things like alcoholism, his estranged father, his own child, and more things of importance, but it gets lost as the music doesn’t have a lasting impact on you. Then there’s also Isaiah’s sporadicness. He’ll touch on alcoholism, his child, his father, and black neglect in one verse, but there’s nothing concrete in his statements. We can piece it together, but it seems like everytime he starts to mention it, he backtracks into something about how nice his flow is. We’d like to hear more of this interesting story in the future.
Overall, we commemorate Isaiah’s initial offering to the world as part of TDE. Since Cilvia Demo has dropped he’s gained notoriety after being featured as part of XXL’s Freshman’s class, so it looks like he wanted that look after all. The mixtape has it’s fair share of highlights and we loved how Isaiah paid much respect to past greats in Southern Hip Hop such as Outkast, Master P., Lil’ Wayne, and Scarface (real name Brad Jordan, a title of one of the songs on the album). He’s still got work to do before he’s on that list, and even some before he’s one of the best rappers in his crew. But one things for sure, the potential is there.
*Ether Report Card 7.79 (out of 10)
Stream the album below: