Isaiah Rashad doesn’t miss. On July 30, the self-proclaimed Tim Duncan of rap launched his new album, The Home Is Burning, to widespread vital acclaim and fan approval. The Home Is Burning is Rashad’s third official undertaking, following the discharge of a stellar studio album, The Solar’s Tirade, in 2016 and breakout debut EP, Cilvia Demo, in 2014.
Born and raised in Chattanooga, Tenn., however primarily based in Los Angeles, Calif., Rashad was as soon as heralded as “subsequent up” and “rising star” amongst a TDE superteam of Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, Jay Rock and SZA. With The Home Is Burning debuting at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 chart as of Aug.8, it’s secure to say that 30-year-old Isaiah Rashad (who additionally goes by Zay) has arrived in fully-fledged famous person mode.
“In my thoughts, I’m three-for-three with this shit as a younger n****,” Rashad tells SLAM. “I’m enthusiastic about being Tim Duncan in 2003 sort of shit.”
The Spurs comparisons don’t cease there. In truth, his father was an enormous Spurs fan, so Rashad himself grew up with a deep appreciation for the pass-heavy San Antonio system of the early 2000s. “With the ability to be programmed early watching basketball, I kinda appreciated the basics of basketball, and the teamwork side,” Rashad says.
There’s a parallel between Rashad’s love for teamwork and the way he approaches his personal artistry. “I deal with my options like weapons. I’m like, ‘who’s gonna are available in proper now, and who can I go this rock to?’ I believe I get rattling close to the most effective verses anytime someone will get on my track. Artistically, that shit is like an oop.”
On The Home Is Burning, Rashad enlists assist from collaborators together with Lil Uzi Vert, 6LACK, Duke Deuce and Smino, and calls on labelmates SZA and Jay Rock to spherical out the 16-track album. “[The songs] are catered to them greater than myself,” Zay says. “I do know I might provide you with some loopy shit by myself, but it surely feels cooler having the ability to name someone and be like ‘Yo—we did that shit.’”
Other than being tremendous f**kin’ expert in his personal proper, one among Rashad’s greatest strengths is he is aware of how and when to depend on different gifted folks, whether or not it’s a fellow artist, a producer, or a supervisor.
“There’s actually good freestylers or battle rappers who’ve actually good fundamentals down, they usually be a type of guys who kill your ass at Venice proper now—they’ll ball out like Kobe at Venice. However when you put them on the fuckin’ ground, they don’t know easy methods to work in a workforce system,” Zay says. “It’s a workforce factor with you and the beat, and also you gotta know who you playin’ with, and with the producer and what you are able to do with that shit.”
Rashad faucets into a various vary of feelings in his music—an end result born from his versatility within the studio, the place he places care and thought into each chord, ad-lib, or automobile ignition sound impact. The Southern influences on The Home Is Burning are well-placed, from the Undertaking Pat and Three 6 Mafia-sampled tracks to the extra refined emblems like gradual pacing and scratches. “I attempt to modernize one thing that’s not happening proper now,” Rashad says, citing Aretha Franklin and Lupe Fiasco as different artists he research and admires.
The album’s eclectic sound makes for a sophisticated product.
“I’m not gonna rap ideally how I wish to on each beat, so I gotta regulate to it,” Rashad says. “Typically I gotta get on a beat and I gotta simply play protection the entire time and do countermelodies. Like, I is perhaps identified for driving beats, however I can’t trip that beat—however I like that mothaf**ka, so I gotta provide you with one other method to regulate, so on the finish, I can know that I conquered that mothaf**ka.”
All through our 30-minute interview, the dialog at all times circles again to the NBA. Zay’s been rocking with Giannis Antetokounmpo for the previous eight years and was comfortable to see him get a championship with the Bucks. Trying forward, Rashad thinks the Lakers have a very good probability of profitable the ‘chip subsequent 12 months, citing the addition of Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Trevor Ariza and Dwight Howard as proof that LeBron James can now facilitate much more throughout the offense, and probably even go after a DPOY trophy if he so chooses. Rashad ranks LeBron over Michael Jordan as a basketball participant, however gave Jordan the nod over ‘Bron as a ‘pure athlete.’ Backside line, the TDE rapper is a terrific hoops analyst, along with his many different skills.
So, what’s subsequent for a rap star coming off three profitable initiatives? After a five-year hiatus between his earlier two initiatives, Zay might probably provide his fanbase with extra constant music within the close to future.
“My superb schedule could be I drop some shit yearly that was simply tester music. And to some folks, it is perhaps the most effective undertaking I did, so perhaps 10-11 tracks yearly. After which each third or fourth 12 months, just like the Olympics, is after I summarize what’s actually happening in my life, and provides [the fans] an actual piece of labor, and never simply an exhibition.”
If Rashad assaults his future initiatives with the identical work ethic, dedication, and focus as The Massive Elementary, then he’s on the precise path.
“The way in which I be profitable, some folks don’t prefer it…And I’m like, that seems like the best way folks speak about Tim Duncan. That seems like how folks discuss[ed] about him his entire profession. I’m like, I adore it. I’m finna get this fuckin’ mid-post leap shot in your ass, and I’m finna make it look actual, actual, actual simple. And it’s gonna appear like I’m not attempting in any respect.”
Eli Schwadron is a contract author and youth basketball coach primarily based in Washington, DC. You’ll be able to observe him @eschwad on Twitter and Instagram.
Images through Vince Nolan and Getty Pictures.