Top Dawg Entertainment's founder, Top Dawg, is known for his love of the dramatic. He took to Instagram to announce that "THE WAIT IS OVAH". On May 7th, a TDE artist would be releasing a new album - one that hadn't dropped for a while.
Fans immediately started speculating that it was going to be a new Kendrick Lamar albun, or a new SZA project. However, for the eagle-eyed, signs pointed to it being a return for Isaiah Rashad, who's been AWOL since his 2016 album The Sun's Tirade.
For all the Isaiah Rashad fans (or Zay, as he's known), there's good news - he's set to release his new album, The House Is Burning, in June. He's just dropped the first single from the project, Lay Wit Ya (featuring Duke Deuce), and it's a track that draws inspiration from authors like Stephen King. Isaiah brings the bars on Lay Wit Ya, and it's a reminder of why his pen-game is top-tier.
Speaking about the new album, Isaiah says, “This album was difficult. I love music, but I don’t like to say shit. It’s almost like a game for me. It’s like working out. I don’t want to be redundant. Redundancy in general bothers me. Any song that I make, I usually make it in about 30 minutes to an hour, and that’s it. My ideas come to me immediately.” To get you up to speed, and to understand why so many people are excited, it's time to re-introduce the world to Isaiah Rashad.
Who is he?
While he had a successful debut with his 2014 album Cilvia Demo, his 2016 project (and his "official" studio debut album), The Sun's Tirade, was an album that spoke about depression and isolation, and how they'd affected Zay. It was an album that, if released in 2020, could have soundtracked the pandemic.
Speaking to The Fader, Zay's explained his absence over the last five years. The success of The Sun's Tirade led to an extravagant, unsustainable lifestyle that spiralled out of control. He was battling with alcoholism, explaining, “If I drink a small quantity of alcohol, I can find myself going back to the store like a zombie for more.
"It’s some shit that a lot of people don’t understand. A lot of people think it’s like a game. I didn’t know how strong alcoholism is either. But you really can’t fuck around with that shit if you know that you have it in the family.”
A conversation with Top Dawg led to a stint in rehab, and after coming out of the clinic "California sober", the fire was back. He'd spent a lot of time trying to (unsuccessfully) follow up The Sun's Tirade, but after some assistance from Kenny Beats, who he counts as his "rap coach", The House Is Burning is set to materialise very, very soon.
Why are people so excited?
Since his last album, a lot's changed in the world. We've (slowly) started to reckon with things like police brutality, and the systemic racism that plagues every aspect of society. It's a remarkably different world from the one where Zay last released music.
His return is set to provide insight into not only his personal experiences over the last half-decade but also his take on the major events of years gone past. Zay's music has always mixed haymaker punchlines with poetic, hand-crafted rhyme schemes, and it's made for music that rap lovers everywhere hold in the highest regard.
What do we know about the album?
Speaking to fans last year on a live stream, Isaiah got fans talking by revealing that the title of his next album would be The House Is Burning. In the interview with The Fader, Zay says it's been cut down from about 60 songs. Speaking about the album, he says, “I just wanted this shit to sound fun. If I’m sad, people don’t need to be able to tell. And this is probably my most depressing album.”