by Itoro Udoko
Isaiah Rashad might be the biggest enigma in Nashville hip-hop. The Chattanooga/Nashville rapper has been making national noise ever since rumors of his signing to West Coast label Top Dawg Entertainment (home to Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, etc) started to surface back in June. However, TDE spent most of the summer being coy, dropping hints but never confirming anything. And with no official projects out yet and only a handful of Soundcloud tracks and Youtube videos, Isaiah Rashad has done a pretty good job of being one of the biggest up-and-coming prospects that people know the least about. But it seems like that’s about to change though.
Last Wednesday, Isaiah Rashad dropped his first new track in almost a year. Then on Friday came the music video, along with a confirmation that’s been almost four months in the making. So as of today, TDE officially has a new member. Everyone loves the new single/video; and for a brief moment, it seems like Isaiah Rashad froze the Internet (or at least all the rap blogs).
Rashad’s new track, “I Shot You Down,” sounds right at home on TDE. Isaiah’s coarse, rapid-fire flow resembles Kendrick Lamar's, Schoolboy Q's and Jay Rock's rolled into one. Rashad sounds like a man on a mission. After nearly a year of not releasing any music, it seems he's ready to make some waves with little regard to who gets soaked. Kendrick Lamar seemingly called out every rapper in hip-hop on the now infamous “Control” verse. And Rashad must have caught whatever bug Kendrick has, because he takes a hit at fellow local Dee Goodz on one of the track’s most clever lines.
Hip-hop has always been fiercely competitive, and personal beefs are a part of the game. But Nashville rappers calling each other out by name is something that rarely happens, given how small our hip-hop scene really is. I have no clue why Rashad and Goodz are currently beefing, but hits like that are the kind of thing that can easily backfire in a local scene. So far, other Nashville rappers have been pretty diplomatic about the dispute, neither choosing a side nor diminishing Rashad’s recent accomplishments. At the end of the day, it’s not that serious. Hearing lines like that get me excited, because hip-hop is competitive. And competition breeds better music. If the diss from “I Shot You Down” makes Goodz rap with a vengeance, everyone wins.
This is obviously an important time for Nashville hip-hop. Complex Magazine recently named ours one of the most underrated hip-hop scenes in America, and one of our rappers just got signed to a major hip-hop label. More eyes are currently on us than ever before, and it seems like a lot of Nashville rappers are primed to release a lot of good music soon.
Now that Rashad is officially TDE, it’ll be exciting to see what he does next. He’s hinting on Twitter that he’s already recorded tracks that blow “I Shot You Down” out of the water. Honestly, it seems like he has a lot of soon-to-be released music already made. He's been doing a lot of scheming lately. It’ll be interesting to see his plan unfold.