Isaiah Rashad
The House Is Burning


3.9
excellent

Review

by Rowan5215 STAFF
August 3rd, 2021 | 107 replies


Release Date: 07/30/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "The House Is Burning, so are you going to run in there and get your trophy from a couple of years ago and those shoes you like? Or, are you going to move on?"

It's been 5 years since we heard more than a "Why Worry"-sized peep from Isaiah Rashad, your coolest friends' favourite rapper with a total of 2 albums. Truthfully, the one-off single and endless teasers on IG only made the wait feel longer, especially with recent years feeling more like an entire goddamn decade. Thankfully, The House is Burning has the dreamily timeless feel of his best work, without living up to the absurdly high standard Cilvia Demo set.

This is no swing for classic status, nor does it want to be: Rashad stays in his own lane, making woozy music for late nights and jagged hangovers, keeping the feeling of ATLiens alive in the modern sphere. As a rapper he's always been straightforward yet entirely compelling, moving at his own pace, staying wholly unconcerned with the state of the scene around him. It's both a blessing and a curse. Zay's world is a uniquely compelling one: half unbelievably chill smoke-out anthems, half Biblical guilt from an insomniac preacher, but when these relaxed reckonings with trauma collide with the demand to meet the obligatory Big Single, things don't go so well. The egregiously simplistic "Lay Wit Ya" and a grating, unnecessary Lil Uzi Vert feature threaten to derail The House is Burning before it's had a chance to get going, even with the beautiful "RIP Young" sequenced between them. What we need is for guests to meet Rashad in his little slice of life, not to drag him out of it: the smooth-as-butter "Claymore" featuring Smino pulls this off, along with album highlight "Score", which taps 6LACK and SZA to integrate into a borderline R&B style that's woozy even for Rashad's standards.

It's no coincidence that the laidback joints emerge as high points - this is the least rap-forward Isaiah Rashad has ever been. His flow and delivery remain immaculate, but wedded this time around to a relaxed, peaceful demeanour that has little in common with the hungry spitter we heard on "Wat's Wrong". I mean, I get it: Rashad is in his 30s now, and on the other end of a stint in rehab which helped him walk back from a drop he'd been eyeing since before the release of The Sun's Tirade. He's older and wiser, not the prodigal son who burst onto the scene with a near-classic, but still a man with something real to say. It's a shame that more of The House is Burning's time isn't spent saying it: the album splits the difference between proclamations of growth that are genuinely powerful and zero-calorie shit like "crush it up, crush it up, crush it up, crush it up, crush it up nice / break it down, break it down, break it down, break it down, pick it up, pick up a price" one too many times. When he does find his muse, though, Rashad is as good as ever: the phenomenal "Don't Shoot" sees him employing an energetic flow and shape-shifting delivery to accompany a thoughtful meditation on how the adoration of his fans fed into some bad habits: "You was lookin' to a light, I was lookin' for a lighter / I was fuckin' with fire in the worst way".

Ultimately the thoroughly satisfying maturation on display is enough to overcome any lyrical shortfalls. In a bizarre turn, the most comprehensive and clear statement I've seen Rashad make on the album came from a Reddit post: "To me, the title sounds like a book—not a rap album. I'm really writing my life. The world's on fire, but nobody cares. It's an observation. The House Is Burning, so are you going to run in there and get your trophy from a couple of years ago and those shoes you like? Or, are you going to move on? Can you grow for yourself? Am I going to sacrifice myself for some old shit? No, I'm going to move on." This is an album about moving on, and refusing to risk the flames for relics of the past. "You are now a human being", Rashad repeats mantra-like at the end of "HB2U", a stunning and moving end to an album as clearly personal as this. The unspoken question that hangs over the entire album, colouring even its chillest moments with a hint of melancholy: now that you're finally here, what do you do with it?



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user ratings (94)
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
August 3rd 2021


45800 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

listen to this - it's good. thanks



Headshots: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRQRmFhL_vo



Claymore: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkfUhe_37A4



Score: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAgK7FrI1pU

Digging: Lil Ugly Mane - VOLCANIC BIRD ENEMY AND THE VOICED CONCERN

Sowing
Moderator
August 3rd 2021


39324 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Knew this was going to be a Rowan review before I clicked. I wish this would get a little weirder and/or more ambitious at times, but for what it is, it's damn solid. The lyrics might make me bump this up eventually.

Digging: S. Raekwon - Where I'm at Now

botb
August 3rd 2021


14811 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Like anything else this dude has done I fully expect it to be a grower

bigweinerdon
August 3rd 2021


1727 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Bangs

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
August 3rd 2021


45800 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

CLAYMORE, LET'S SWANG

BigTuna
August 3rd 2021


5604 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I've only listened a few times through while working out, so I'm eager to give this a proper spin while paying attention to the lyrics.

Digging: The World Is a Beautiful Place... - Illusory Walls

Colton
August 3rd 2021


12732 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

can’t help but be slightly disappointed by Isaiah’s post-Cilvia Demo output

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
August 3rd 2021


45800 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

will never comprehend how Nelly wasn't on Sun's Tirade tbh. top 5 Zay

JeetJeet
August 3rd 2021


9946 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Amazing album. This is everything Sun's Tirade should've been.

Also the loosies he dropped during this album's rollout are great too (Runnin, Slow Motion freestyle, 200/Warning) so anyone who's reading this, peep those too.

Digging: Zack Fox - Shut The Fuck Up Talking To Me

Colton
August 3rd 2021


12732 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

it’s just like his energy is gone. he’s too content to stay in this laid back lowkey type of mode that results in some really nice and smooth tracks but there’s nothing that makes me go “damn” like his verse on Shot You Down or his energy on Webbie Flow

AlexKzillion
August 3rd 2021


12987 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Knew this was going to be a Rowan review before I clicked. I wish this would get a little weirder and/or more ambitious at times, but for what it is, it's damn solid. The lyrics might make me bump this up eventually. [2]



Now we just need new Ab-Soul

WyattLee14
August 3rd 2021


3 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Hey Mista goes too hard

botb
August 3rd 2021


14811 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Yeah man, I wish 200/warning was on this because that song fucks and it would’ve sat perfectly in the midst of this.

Josh D.
August 3rd 2021


16802 Comments


This is a nice listen.

MiloRuggles
Staff Reviewer
August 4th 2021


1574 Comments


Great review, rep that staff hip-hop boi. Excited to hear this. That Reddit AMA was hilarious

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
August 4th 2021


45800 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

Zay being asked 'atliens or aquemini' and pickin southernplayalistic was the most on-brand shit I've ever seen lmao

ReefaJones
August 4th 2021


2099 Comments


the vibiest rapper

bigweinerdon
August 4th 2021


1727 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

All Herb is the only song I don't care for, still decent though

Slex
August 4th 2021


12267 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

honestly obsessed with this album

Digging: Magdalena Bay - Mercurial World

JeetJeet
August 4th 2021


9946 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I JUST PUT BLADES ON A BULLETPROOF RANGE, I COULD CRIPPLE LIU KANG, ITS ON ONNNNNNNNNNNNNN



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