Isaiah Rashad

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Isaiah Rashad
McClain in January 2017
McClain in January 2017
Background information
Birth nameIsaiah Rashad McClain
Born (1991-05-16) May 16, 1991 (age 30) [1]
Chattanooga, Tennessee, U.S.
GenresSouthern hip hop
  • Rapper
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
Years active2009–present
Associated acts

Isaiah Rashad McClain (born May 16, 1991) is an American rapper from Chattanooga, Tennessee. His first big break would be performing on the 2012 Smoker's Club Tour with rappers Juicy J, Joey Badass and Smoke DZA among others. He is also a founding member of the Chattanooga hip hop collective The House along with fellow Chattanooga rappers YGTUT, Michael Da Vinci (MikeyD), Chris P, and Brian Brown.

In March 2013, Rashad signed to the Carson, California-based independent record label Top Dawg Entertainment. On January 28, 2014, he released Cilvia Demo, his first extended play, via digital distribution. Cilvia Demo was met with widespread acclaim from music critics and debuted at number 40 on the US Billboard 200. Off the buzz from the release of the EP, Rashad was named to the 2014 XXL freshman class. On September 2, 2016, he released his debut studio album, The Sun's Tirade, to further acclaim. The album peaked at number 17 on the Billboard 200. On July 30, 2021, he released his long-awaited sophomore album, The House Is Burning.

Early life[edit]

Isaiah Rashad McClain was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was raised primarily by his mother, who is a hairdresser. When he was young, Rashad's father would let him stay up late while they listened to Too $hort and Scarface.[2] Then one day when Rashad was three, his father left.[3] Rashad briefly had ambitions of becoming a preacher, until his stepbrother lent him a copy of OutKast's ATLiens in junior high, and his mindset shifted. Shortly after, Rashad started spending most of his time rapping.[2] In his youth, Isaiah’s mother and stepfather converted to Islam and were a part of the Five Percent Nation. He also recounts going to mosque every weekend.

Musical career[edit]

2009–2012: Beginnings[edit]

Rashad first began rapping seriously in tenth grade, while he and his friends would record on laptops.[4] At one point, the first stage name he used was Zay Taylor.[5] After high school, he went to Middle Tennessee State University.[6] Then his friend who went to school for music production introduced Rashad to a friend who had a recording studio. As it turned out, the man happened to be his cousin and he let Rashad record there for free. Once his cousin moved on to a different job, Rashad bounced around a couple of local studios. He stopped going to school and lived wherever he could record.[4]

He began getting industry connects, forging relationships with DJ Z from and Jeff Weiss who writes for Rolling Stone.[7] From that his music begun getting passed around to various A&R's.[7] From July 13 to August 23, 2012, Isaiah Rashad toured with Juicy J, Joey Badass and Smoke DZA among others, on the 2012 Smoker's Club Tour.[8] In December 2012, Rashad begun getting attention from various record labels, most of which he showed no interest in. He also released many free singles on SoundCloud using beats from well known producers such as MF Doom and Flying Lotus, which helped increase his popularity.[9]

2013–2014: Label signing and Cilvia Demo[edit]

In March 2013, Rashad met production team Digi+Phonics' Dave Free, who then introduced him to Anthony Tiffith, the CEO of Carson, California-based independent record label Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE).[9] On June 3, 2013, it was reported that Rashad was the recent buzz about signing to Top Dawg Entertainment, home to rappers such as Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, Ab-Soul and Jay Rock. However, the label did not release an official statement.[10][11] Over the following months the label and Rashad remained coy about the signing, not confirming anything.[12]

Rashad in 2014

Then on September 20, 2013, Top Dawg Entertainment made the signing official with Top Dawg announcing it over Twitter.[13] However, he revealed he had been signed to the label since March.[2] Following the signing, Rashad moved to Los Angeles, California and began living and recording at the TDE Red Room Studio.[14] To celebrate the signing announcement, a music video for a new song titled "Shot You Down" was released.[15] It was his first new song released in over a year.[12] The video had been recently shot in his hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee.[2] On October 1, 2013, a video was released of Rashad signing his contract with TDE.[16]

On October 15, 2013, Isaiah Rashad made his national television debut when he participated in the TDE Cypher during the 2013 BET Hip Hop Awards, alongside his label-mates Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, ScHoolboy Q and Jay Rock.[17] XXL praised the verse as strong, even through the high pressure Rashad had to impress the masses.[18] Entertainment Weekly also praised his verse during the cypher.[19] On October 18, 2013, the remix to "Shot You Down" featuring ScHoolboy Q and Jay Rock was released via SoundCloud.[20] On November 7, 2013, Rashad told Revolt that he would be releasing his very first official project Cilvia during December 2013.[21][22] Closing out 2013, HipHopDX named Rashad a runner-up for their award for "Rising Star of the Year".[23] In early January 2014, Complex named him one of the new rappers most likely to "blow up" during 2014.[24] In mid-January 2014, Rashad revealed that the mixtape Cilvia would now be his debut extended play (EP) and would not contain many featured artists.[25] On January 17, CEO Top Dawg revealed the cover artwork for the EP and that Cilvia Demo would be released digitally on January 28, 2014. It revealed features from TDE's SZA and Jay Rock and ScHoolboy Q on the remix of "Shot You Down".[26][27] The day before the EP's release, Rashad released the music video for the Cilvia Demo song, "Soliloquy".[28][29]

As promised, Cilvia Demo was released on January 28, 2014 via digital download retailers and was made available in CD format exclusively from Top Dawg Entertainment's website.[30] Cilvia Demo received widespread acclaim upon its release and debuted at number 40 on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 8,500 copies in the United States during its first week of release.[31]

2014–2016: The Sun's Tirade and further recognition[edit]

Rashad (left) and Kendrick Lamar at FYF Fest in August 2016

From March 1 to June 1, 2014, Rashad toured with ScHoolboy Q for the entirety of his international tour supporting his third studio album Oxymoron.[32] On May 5, 2014, XXL revealed Rashad was included in their annual freshman class, alongside fellow up-and-comers Chance the Rapper, Ty Dolla $ign, Rich Homie Quan, Vic Mensa, August Alsina, Troy Ave, Kevin Gates, Lil Bibby, Jon Connor, Lil Durk and Jarren Benton.[33][34] On July 18, 2014, Rashad performed at the Pitchfork Music Festival.[35] The following year, it was announced that Rashad will be included in a docu-series by Sprite, which will support the brand's "Obey Your Verse" Lyrical Collection.[36]

On August 30, 2015, Rashad tweeted that he had completed and turned in his anticipated follow-up project to Cilvia Demo, and that it would be released soon. On September 20, 2015, Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith stated that new material from Rashad would arrive by the end of 2015. On September 23, 2015, Rashad released a new single entitled "Nelly", to critical acclaim. It was later confirmed by Rashad through a deleted tweet, that his upcoming follow-up project would be his debut studio album. On January 14, 2016, the album's second single, "Smile", was released on the internet to positive reception.

In August 2016, he released the single "Free Lunch" to wide acclaim, and later confirmed his debut studio album's release date.[37] After releasing two new tracks, "I Mean" and "Park", Rashad released his debut studio album, titled The Sun's Tirade, on September 2, 2016, to widespread critical acclaim.[38] The album debuted at number 17 on the US Billboard 200, selling 19,000 copies its first week.[39]

On October 24, 2016, Rashad announced his first U.S. headlining tour, the Lil Sunny Tour, via Twitter, stopping in 22 cities and set to begin in January 2017.[40] In response to several sold-out shows, Rashad announced that his tour would extend into 24 additional cities, as well as adding second shows in Chicago, Boston and New York.[41]

2017–present: The House Is Burning[edit]

On October 23, 2017, Rashad issued several tweets hinting at a new album coming.[42][43] The album, which would be the second studio album and third full-length project coming from Rashad and TDE, would follow successful releases by fellow TDE artists SZA and Kendrick Lamar when released to the public. In May 2019, Rashad played snippets of various unreleased tracks. Then during an Instagram live video on June 20, 2019, he played a new snippet of a song produced by Kenny Beats, and announced the title of his upcoming studio album to be The House Is Burning.[44] On April 22, 2020, Rashad released the song "Why Worry" as part of Top Dawg Entertainment's Fan Appreciation Week.[45]

In an interview for The Fader, Rashad announced The House Is Burning was slated for release in June 2021.[46] On May 7, 2021, Rashad released the first single from the upcoming album "Lay wit Ya" featuring Duke Deuce, alongside a music video directed by Omar Jones. It was also announced on all digital platform credits for the song that Rashad also signed a joint venture with Warner Records. On June 17, 2021, Rashad released the album's second single "Headshots (4r da Locals)", with a music video for the song being released six days later, directed by Jack Begert and Mez Heirs. On July 7, 2021, Rashad revealed the album's cover art and a July 30 release date, via his social media platforms.[47]


Rashad in 2014

Rashad's music is characterized by its woozy, often nostalgic tone and conscious lyrics that touch on topics of depression, drug addiction, and family. Jason Moore of Complex discussed him saying, "Rashad spits thoughtfully, intelligently, and with precision, morphing his delivery to fit different production styles and making each line count."[48] Rashad's debut EP Cilvia Demo is a concept album, which according to Rashad, sums up his adolescent life and mindset in a short period of time, while his album The Sun's Tirade details his experiences in overcoming drug addiction and depression.


Growing up and to this day Rashad says he listens or listened to Jay-Z, Nas, Snoop Dogg, OutKast, No Limit Records, Cash Money Records, Erykah Badu, The Fugees, KRS-One, Dead Prez, Kanye West, Little Brother, Three 6 Mafia, 8Ball & MJG, UGK, George Clinton, James Brown, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Gorillaz and Danger Mouse.[14][49] Moreover, he credits OutKast, namely Big Boi; Scarface; and Jay-Z for being the biggest influences to his music.[14] Then in a later interview with XXL he said his main influences are also OutKast, Erykah Badu, Gnarls Barkley, ScHoolboy Q, T.I. and Lil Wayne.[34]

Personal life[edit]

Rashad has a son and a daughter. Upon signing to Top Dawg Entertainment he got a tattoo to commemorate the partnership."[34]

During promotion of The Sun's Tirade, Rashad revealed that he was addicted to Xanax and alcohol, and was suffering from depression, anxiety and isolation during the time between the release of Cilvia Demo and The Sun's Tirade. He further stated that he "fucked up", and almost got dropped from Top Dawg Entertainment a total of three times during the recording of his album.[50][51][52]

In an interview with Vice, Rashad revealed that at 19 he had suicidal tendencies and attempted suicide a few times however he "chickened out", saying that it was just one of the many adventurous moments in his life.[53]



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  42. ^ [1][dead link]
  43. ^ [2][dead link]
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  52. ^ "Isaiah Rashad Says His Xanax And Alcohol Addiction Almost Got Him Dropped From TDE". Retrieved 2017-07-05.
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