Written by DeRa Brinson
This is part two of a two-part series of albums released in the past two years that the Sonic Breakdown has not yet reviewed but that we recommend. All of these albums have qualities that make them stand out for lyrics, production, or concept that elevates them above the rest of the albums.
Isaiah Rashad: Cilvia Demo
This is the first album from Isaiah Rashad after being signed to the TDE label. The choice of production on this album is interesting, with a mixed feeling of Southern influence and a laid-back California groove. The aggression that he has over smoother, relaxed beats is a great contrast that provides an enjoyable listen. The feeling can be likened to a Red Bull and vodka that keeps the drinker inebriated but full of energy at the same time. The album ends with a great track, “Shot You Down,” in which Jay Rock and Schoolboy Q have standout featured verses with Isaiah Rashad holding his own. Isaiah Rashad lives up to the high standard set by fellow TDE artists who are extremely talented but in vastly different ways: Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, Schoolboy Q, and Jay Rock. This is a very good album that has me anticipating what is next for this Southern, attention-to-detail lyricist.
Earl Sweatshirt: I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside
The album is extremely dark sonically but uses a very different production that isn’t normally seen in hip-hop today except for a very few artists. This album gives the impression that we are getting a glimpse into the mind of Earl. He gives an inside look into his emotional and psychological state and how he is trying to navigate through his tribulations. He discusses issues from commitment to dealing with the grief of his grandmother passing all the way to the coping mechanism of drug use. Earl uses interesting metaphors to express his inner thinking. This album was recommended to be reviewed by a reader of the Sonic Breakdown, Earl Crosby. Thanks, Mr. Crosby, for recommending a dark, sonically creative, and interesting album.
Joey Bada$$: B4.DA.$$
I have been listening to Joey Bada$$ for a while now, and that made me anticipate this album for a long time. The first song that piqued my interest for Joey was “Waves” that came out in 2012. This album is very New York-influenced with some boom-bap rap thrown in. Joey uses retro-sounding beats, which is what we’ve come to expect from him and Pro Era. On the album, he exposes different layers of who he is as a person and his maturation as an artist as well as in life. He raps about wanting to take care of his friend’s family while his friend is locked up and being raised by his mother and their positive relationship. The production is well mixed from light up-tempo to slow, darker, grittier beats all the way to a bonus dance track, “Teach Me” with Kiesza, all maintaining a level of cohesion. There are some songs that emote the aura of the classic Nas album Illmatic. This album continues to show Joey’s growth lyrically and his willingness to explore musically. I’m looking forward to continuing to watch this young MC’s growth as he unlocks the endless potential that he has.
Next week’s Breakdown will cover Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment’s Surf, which was recommended by Sonic Breakdown reader Jason Terrell. Thanks for the suggestion, Jason. We appreciate you riding with us and hope for your continued support. Everyone please visit his website here, because he is doing a lot of great things in his community for education. Education is the key to a better future.