Isaiah Rashad - Cilvia Demo (Review)


"Cilvia Demo" is the debut EP by TDE emcee Isaiah Rashad. The EP features guest appearances from SchoolBoy Q, Jay Rock, SZA and others as well as production from The Antydote, Black Metaphor, Sounwave and others. It was released on January 28, 2014 via Top Dawg Entertainment.


1) Hereditary - The album begins with a short song that is more of an intro than anything else. The beat, by Ross Vega, is mellow and Isaiah Rashad just kinda sings over it about how his father's bad ways influenced him to be the man he is today. Not bad for what it is, but this track probably won't get much play from me.

2) Webbie Flow (U Like) - This track is produced by Mr. Carmack and it's pretty dope. The beat is laid-back, with a darker sample layered over stomping boom-bap drums that give it a real spacious feel while still maintaining its hip-hop roots. Lyrically Isaiah sounds really good over the instrumental, kicking some honest rhymes about the days of his youth while utilizing a somewhat intricate flow. Hmm, yeah. I'm feelin' this one. Nice.

3) Cilvia Demo - The title track features a dreary Joseph Stranger instrumental with a distorted, chopped up vocal loop and moody synths over the head nodding drums. Isaiah Rashad comes through and kicks some raps about cruising through the streets in his whip, among other things, but its the catchy hook that really stands out to me on this song. Not bad.

4) R.I.P. Kevin Miller - Black Metaphor delivers a dope instrumental on this song that seems to borrow some of it's elements from the other tracks on the EP while still managing to maintain its own identity. Like the others songs, the beat has a dark, airy feel to it but is real smooth and gritty at the same time. It's a difficult balance, but it seems to be working in the EP's favor so far. As far as the rhymes go, this is kind of Isaiah's ode to the South and he switches up his delivery a bit to come with something different. I'm really feelin' the way he can put words together and come with different flows that make it seem like rapping is effortless for him. Dope shit.

5) Ronnie Drake (featuring SZA) - Isaiah Rashad kicks some ill street rhymes focusing on race over another mellow instrumental, this time courtesy of The Antydote. The song has a real "Dungeon Family"-esque feel for me, from the spaced-out synths over boom-bap drums to the soulful hook by fellow TDE member SZA. So far Isaiah continues to showcase his ability to jump between the usual street rhymes about drugs and money to more introspective and deeper rhymes on a whim, which is something I respect in an emcee. Very dope.



6) West Savannah (featuring SZA) - Speaking of the Dungeon Family, this shit right here is also very reminiscent of their style and feel, a fact that Isaiah must have been well aware of since he shouts out Outkasts "Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik" on the chorus. The beat, also by The Antydote, is another one of my favorite instrumentals on the EP, with a breezy Iman Omari sample that seems to have the drums and bass toned down to almost tranquil levels. Isaiah sings more than raps the lyrics on here, with SZA providing backing vocals that add even more lushness to the track. Very dope.

7) Soliloquy - In sharp contrast to the laid back feel of the previous track, this song features a hard ass Farhot instrumental full of frantic pianos and trunk-rattling bass. Isaiah comes through and just bodies the track on some Kendrick Lamar "Riggamortis" shit, spitting some venomous bars about his estranged father, among other things. The rhymes are witty and his harder delivery is definitely on point. Dude is definitely making me a fan over the course of this EP. Very nice.



8) Tranquility - Farhot returns with the production duties on this song, this time delivering an introspective piano-based instrumental with minimal drums. Lyrically the song is not as hard as the previous track either, with Isaiah stepping back and thanking God for everything he has while contemplating his relationship with his son. His angst towards his father has come up multiple times on the EP, so its nice to hear him wonder what his relationship with his newborn son is going to be like. Nice.

9) Menthol (featuring Jean Deaux) - Isaiah Rashad kicks some love rhymes over another easy going instrumental. The beat, by Sounwave, is real smooth, with a relaxed piano loop over shuffling drums that sound right at home in the overall theme of the EP. I'm not familiar with Jean Deaux, but she provides some real soulful vocals on the chorus that help to tie the song together. Dope.

10) Modest - Chris Calor comes through with another one of my favorite instrumentals on the EP, featuring some trippy, resonant synths over ambient drums. The beat feels desolate, but its absolutely beautiful at the same time. Lyrically Isaiah Rashad changes up his delivery yet again, this time to an almost sing-songy flow while coming with an intricate rhyme scheme at the same time. I've said it before and I'll say it again, he is really impressing me with the range of styles he is coming with on the album and his hook game is definitely on point. This shit is fire.

11) Heavenly Father - Man, this EP just keeps getting better and better. This song probably has the most lighthearted feel of any song so far, with Isaiah rapping out God and redemption for all he has done over a soulful D. Sanders instrumental. The beat is dope as hell and the TDE emcee changes up his delivery yet again over it, spitting his rhymes in an even more melodious, sing-song flow than on the previous track before switching up to a more standard flow for the third verse. I'm not sure who provides the backing vocals on here, but her presence definitely adds to the song as well. Another banger.

12) Banana - The Antydote returns, this time with a instrumental centered around a chopped up vocal loop and head nodding drums. Isaiah comes through and flexes his lyrical muscle a bit more on here, spitting his rhymes in a more energetic and traditional flow than on the previous song. His voice is full of pain and emotion, especially on the second verse which shows flashes of Kendrick's influence in his delivery. After the past two tracks, though, this song doesn't really standout to me as much as it should. With that being said, it's still banging.

13) Brad Jordan (featuring Michael Da Vinci) - Isaiah Rashad continues the trend of mentioning his influences in his track titles and lyrics, with the previously mentioned Outkast and Master P's deceased younger brother Kevin Miller now being joined by Southern legend Scarface. The beat on this track, courtesy of Danny Dee, fits into the overall soundscape of the EP nicely, with more ambient synths over mellow drums. As expected by now, Isaiah Rashad sounds really great over it, rapping about riding around with his boy Michael Da Vinci (who also comes correct on the track). Nice.

14) Shot You Down (Remix) (featuring Jay Rock and SchoolBoy Q) - The final song on the EP has a beautifully melancholy instrumental, courtesy of The Antydote and Chris Calor, that features some mournful flutes and subdued vocals over plodding drums that should get your head nodding a bit. The original version of this song is banging and actually got some visuals to go along with it a few months back, but the remix sounds even better since it adds verses from TDE alumni Jay Rock and SchoolBoy Q. This shit is absolute fire and is a great way to close out the EP.



I'm going to rate the EP

4 / 5

because its very impressive for a debut EP, especially from an emcee I've never really heard anything from before signing to TDE. The beats are banging throughout, with mostly all of them staying consistent with the darker, yet laid-back, sonic theme of the album. Lyrically Isaiah Rashad fares just as well as the beats, kicking some honest and emotional rhymes about his life in a variety of delivery's and flows. The thing I like most about the project is that it shows off Isaiah's wide range of abilities, from spitting violent street lyrics in a more traditional flow to contemplating how his turbulent relationship with his father will affect his developing relationship with his son in a more sing-song flow. The first time I listened to the EP I honestly thought he wasn't saying too much lyrically, as his extremely catchy hooks coupled with the banging production stood out the most to me. That changed, however, after repeated listens and I began to pick up on the deeper meanings of some of the songs.

Favorite tracks - Ronnie Drake, West Savannah, Modest, Heavenly Father, Shot You Down (Remix)

2 comments:

  1. That was a Great review of this record I been listening to it since I got......

    ReplyDelete