In terms of underrated, underappreciated, and overall overlooked talent in the rap game it seems like there is no name more mentioned in that breath than Isaiah Rashad. Characteristically known as the dark horse of the massive TDE conglomerate that contains SZA, Jay Rock, ScHoolboy Q, Lance Skiiiwalker, Kendrick Lamar, and many others among the talent on the roster but it also highlights his unique stature in the hip hop world as someone endeared by the hardcore fans of the genre but dismissed by the casuals who look for “hits”.
The House is Burning is an album that is indicative to both the cultural position that Rashad is in but also to the tier of music quality that is almost unmatched by his lyrical abilities. He has an ability to take casual phrases and attach them to obscure situations that really give him an expert-level of control over his music that just highlights his low-key genius. There is an overwhelming sense of nostalgic reference mixed in with modern terms and production tropes that make it feel like a respect for the old-guard of music while trying to pave a whole new type of sound. The interjections of “Ridin’ In Da Chevy” by Triple Six Mafia and other small samples here and there really give it a complete look of hip-hop feel.
In terms of songs, this is a bit of a lengthy project as it goes to 16 tracks, but it also misses out on two of the singles that were featured to promote his new work such as “200/Warning” or “Running” ft. ScHoolboy Q. This was a similar issue that occurred with his last album as what is arguably his best single of all-time was not featured on his first feature-length album; “Smile”.
However, in terms of an overall project without any holds or ties to his past or expectations, this is another classic from Rashad. Its a totally acceptable listen with highlights that overshadow the less-than-bombastic-lows of the album that a lot of casuals would probably have difficulties getting through since its much more structured towards a traditional album shape than just a streaming-giant vacuum.
Overall, this is a great album that shows how he focuses on actually putting together a great project rather than clout chase with the likes of the majority of the mainstream rap community. One could make the argument that he does or doesn’t belong in the echelon of those that are more popular, but no one can ever dispute the excellence of his work.
Favorite Tracks: “From Tha Garden (ft. Lil Uzi Vert)” “RIP Young” “Headshots (4R Da Locals)” and “What U Sed (ft. Iamdoechii & Kal Banx)