Isaiah Rashad Concert Review

Isaiah Rashad
January 19th, 2017
The Granada - Lawrence, KS

Isaiah Rashad
Chattanooga, Tennessee rapper Isaiah Rashad was the first artist to sign to modern day hip-hop powerhouse Top Dawg Entertainment in 2013 -- aside from the label's core lineup made up of Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, Jay Rock, and Ab-Soul. Rashad quietly released his debut on the label in 2014 called "Cilvia Demo," which since has become a cult classic.

 Lance Skiiwalker
For an artist with as much momentum as he had, the path leading to Rashad's new album "The Sun's Tirade" and the first stop of the Lil Sunny Tour were not as bright as their names may imply. Fans waited for the sophomore album impatiently and high-ranking members of the Top Dawg team made it clear that they were unhappy with Rashad too. When the album finally dropped in September 2016, Rashad revealed that he had been battling substance abuse, as well as depression and anxiety. The album made for an exceptional apology to those he kept waiting and finally set out on his first major headlining tour.

The first stop of this tour was Wednesday night at The Granada -- sold out. Chance The Rapper may now be hip-hop's default "gospel rapper," but that didn't keep Rashad from taking the audience to church. Southern hip-hop acts like OutKast have a clear influence on his music and his childhood aspirations to become a preacher are easy enough to infer. "Heavenly Father" -- a fan favorite from "Cilvia Demo" -- brought home all of the evening's pious energies, complete with lighter (and cell phone light) waving from the crowd.

On more energetic cuts, Rashad moved across the stage with a skip in his step, often stopping to hike up his drooping t-shirt and deliver a few lines in a matter-of-fact fashion with a hand on his hip. The rapper's voice boomed through the PA on every line, leaving little room for a backing track. Material from "The Sun's Tirade" offers a bit more kick instrumentally than its predecessor, employing louder drum fills, but songs from each album bled into each other without being abrupt.

Jay IDK
 Despite facing more than his fair share of tribulations leading up to it and during it -- one song was ended due to an unruly fan throwing a plastic vodka bottle at him -- Rashad delivered the headlining performance that fans had been aching for. He also showcased his ability as a rapper, as well as Top Dawg's knack for churning out successful artists that adhere to no trend.

Supporting Rashad was Lance Skiiwalker -- one of the newest additions to the Top Dawg roster. Skiiwalker released his debut album "Introverted Intuition" last year and flew under the radar for the most part. His hurried set didn't exceed 15 minutes and his blend of emotional hip-hop and atmospheric R&B failed to create much traction with the antsy, young crowd.

Quickly-rising Maryland emcee Jay IDK opened Wednesday evening's show as the sold out crowd was still filing in from the cold. The overall-clad rapper took The Granada stage with force, administering a headline-worthy performance and creating scores of new fans with chants of "J-A-Y I-D-K."

Full photo gallery: https://www.flickr.com/photos/118613296@N06/albums/72157679330043955/with/31557072914/

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