The wait is finally over for The Sun’s Tirade, the proper full-length debut from TDE’s Southern delegate Isaiah Rashad. We’ve already heard “Free Lunch” and “Park,” and Rashad revealed a struggle with Xanax and alcohol as the reason for the two-year wait after his promising Cilvia Demo. Though the excellent one-offs “Smile” and “i mean” didn’t make the cut, there is plenty of heat to go around on the 17-track behemoth.
Rashad could function as the sole Southern rep of Native Tongues just as easily as he fills the role for TDE. Retro jazzy vibes meet Dirty South sensibilities as he flexes his malleability by singing, sing-song rapping, and spitting slick, introspective, skillful bars. He’s nestled even deeper into the dark, somber mood of Cilvia Demo. Rashad is more comfortable in the shadows, and he doesn’t offer much in the form of redemption or hope, only allowing brief glimpses of light and hope into his space. His sadness is palpable all over the album, but he expresses it beautifully. Tracks like “Stuck In The Mud,” “AA,” and “Don’t Matter” take you all the way to the edge, and the only solace afforded you is knowing Rashad is doing better now.
Within the melancholy are frequent flashes of brilliance. I haven’t heard anyone come close to getting the best of Kendrick Lamar on a track, but Rashad goes bar for bar with him on “Wat’s Wrong.” He recalls the sounds of “B.O.B.”-era Outkast, prime UGK, the pinnacle of Cash Money, and other Southern gems excellently and effortlessly. Yet the Chattanooga rapper is just as comfy rhyming over some A Tribe Called Quest-esque 6/4-metered jazz riffs, classic DJ scratches, or celestial underground grittiness. For a rapper firmly rooted in the South, his fluidity moving through the different eras and regions of rap is impressive.
Zay came correct. He acknowledges the wait, and the pressure it put on him, but it didn’t break him. Top-five rap album of the year — easy. Listen.
The Sun’s Tirade is out now on TDE.