Isaiah Rashad McClain (born May 16, 1991), better known as Isaiah Rashad, is an American hip hop recording artist from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Rashad began taking rapping seriously in tenth grade, where he and his friends would record on laptops. He spe...
Isaiah Rashad McClain (born May 16, 1991), better known as Isaiah Rashad, is an American hip hop recording artist from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Rashad began taking rapping seriously in tenth grade, where he and his friends would record on laptops. He spent the next few years recording at local recording studios. His first big break would be touring with rappers Juicy J, Joey Bada$$ and Smoke DZA among others, on the 2012 Smoker's Club Tour.
In March 2013, Rashad signed to Carson, California-based independent record label Top Dawg Entertainment. On January 28, 2014, he released Cilvia Demo, his first extended play, via digital distribution. Cilvia Demo was met with widespread acclaim from music critics and debuted at number 40 on the US Billboard 200. Off the buzz from the release of the EP, Rashad was named to the 2014 XXL freshman class.
Isaiah Rashad was born Isaiah Rashad McClain, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Isaiah Rashad was raised primarily by his mother, who is a hairdresser. His father would let Rashad stay up late with him while they listened to Too $hort and Scarface, when he was young. Then one day when Rashad was three, his father left. Rashad briefly had ambitions of becoming a preacher, until his stepbrother lent him a copy of OutKast's ATLiens in junior high, and his mindset shifted. Shortly after, Rashad started spending most of his time smoking marijuana and rapping.
2009–2012: Career beginnings and building his buzz
Isaiah Rashad first began rapping seriously in tenth grade, while he and his friends would record on laptops. After high school, he went to Middle Tennessee State University. Then his friend who went to school for music production introduced Rashad to a friend who had a recording studio. As it turned out, the man happened to be his cousin and he let Rashad record there for free. Once his cousin moved on to a different job, Rashad bounced around a couple of local studios. He stopped going to school and lived wherever he could record.
He began getting industry connects, forging relationships with Max Pete from DJBooth.net and Jeff Weiss who writes for Rolling Stone. From that his music begun getting passed around to various A&R's. From July 13 to August 23, 2012, Isaiah Rashad toured with Juicy J, Joey Bada$$ and Smoke DZA among others, on the 2012 Smoker's Club Tour. In December 2012, Rashad begun getting attention from various record labels, most of which he showed no interest in. He also released many free singles on Soundlcloud teaming up with well known producers such as MF Doom and Flying Lotus, which also helped increase his reputation.
2013-2014: Signing to TDE, Cilvia Demo and major recognition
In March 2013, Rashad met production team Digi+Phonics' Dave Free, who then introduced him to Top Dawg, CEO of Carson, California-based independent record label Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE). On June 3, 2013, it was reported that Rashad was the recently buzzed about signing to Top Dawg Entertainment, home to rappers such as Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul and Jay Rock. However, the label did not release an official statement. Over the following months the label and Rashad remained coy about the signing, not confirming anything.
Then on September 20, 2013, Top Dawg Entertainment made the signing official with Top Dawg announcing it over Twitter. However, he revealed he had been signed to the label since March. Following the signing, Rashad moved to Los Angeles, California and began living and recording at the TDE Red Room Studio. To celebrate the signing announcement, a music video for a new song titled "Shot You Down" was released. It was his first new song released in over a year. The video had been recently shot in his hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee. On October 1, 2013, a video was released of Rashad signing his contract with TDE.
On October 15, 2013, Isaiah Rashad made his national television debut when he participated in the TDE Cypher during the 2013 BET Hip Hop Awards, alongside his label-mates Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, Schoolboy Q and Jay Rock. XXL praised the verse as strong, even due to the high pressure Rashad had to impress the masses. Entertainment Weekly also praised his verse during the cypher. On October 18, 2013, the remix to "Shot You Down" featuring Schoolboy Q and Jay Rock was released via SoundCloud. On November 7, 2013, Rashad told Revolt that he would be releasing his very first official project Cilvia during December 2013. Closing out 2013, HipHopDX named Rashad a runner-up for their award for "Rising Star of the Year". In early January 2014, Complex named him one of the new rappers most likely to "blow up" during 2014. In mid-January 2014, Rashad revealed that the mixtape Cilvia would now be his debut extended play (EP) and would not contain many featured artists. On January 17, CEO Top Dawg revealed the cover artwork for the EP and that Cilvia Demo would be released digitally on January 28, 2014. It revealed features from TDE's SZA and Jay Rock and Schoolboy Q on the remix of "Shot You Down". The day before the EP's release, Rashad released the music video for the Cilvia Demo song, "Soliloquy".
As promised, Cilvia Demo was released on January 28, 2014 via digital download retailers and was made available in CD format exclusively from Top Dawg Entertainment's website. Cilvia Demo received widespread acclaim upon its release. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from critics, the album received an average score of 82, which indicates "universal acclaim", based on 13 reviews. Rob Markman of MTV gave the EP a positive review saying, "By the time the 14-track project winds down, Isaiah Rashad slowly doles out his own coming-of-age story using introspective raps, melodies and, at times, good old southern bounce." The EP debuted at number 40 on the US Billboard 200 chart and sold 8,500 copies in the United States, during its first week of release.
2014–present: Touring and debut studio album
From March 1 to June 1, 2014, Isaiah Rashad toured with Schoolboy Q for the entirety of his international tour supporting his third studio album Oxymoron. On May 5, 2014, XXL revealed Rashad was included in their annual freshman class, alongside fellow up-and-comers Chance the Rapper, Ty Dolla $ign, Rich Homie Quan, Vic Mensa, August Alsina, Troy Ave, Kevin Gates, Lil Bibby, Jon Connor, Lil Durk and Jarren Benton. On July 18, 2014, Rashad performed at the Pitchfork Music Festival. The following year, it was announced that Rashad will be included in a docu-series by Sprite, which will support the brand's "Obey Your Verse" Lyrical Collection.
On August 30th, 2015, Rashad tweeted that he had completed and turned in his anticipated follow up project to Cilvia Demo, and that it would be released soon. On September 20, 2015, Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith stated that new material from Rashad would arrive by the end of 2015. On September 23, 2015, Rashad released a new single entitled "Nelly". It was later confirmed by Rashad through a deleted tweet, that his upcoming follow up project would be his debut studio album. On January 14, 2016, the album's second single, "Smile", was released on the internet.
Growing up and to this day Rashad says he listens or listened to Jay-Z, Nas, Snoop Dogg, OutKast, No Limit Records, Cash Money Records, Erykah Badu, The Fugees, KRS-One, Dead Prez, Kanye West, Little Brother, Three 6 Mafia, 8Ball & MJG, UGK, R. Kelly, Bootsy Collins, George Clinton, James Brown, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Gorillaz and Danger Mouse. Moreover, he credits OutKast, namely Big Boi, Scarface, and Jay-Z for being the biggest influences to his music. Then in a later interview with XXL he said his main influences are also OutKast, Erykah Badu, Gnarls Barkley, Schoolboy Q and Lil Wayne.
Jason Moore of Complex discussed him saying, "Rashad spits thoughtfully, intelligently, and with precision, morphing his delivery to fit different production styles and making each line count." Rashad's debut EP Cilvia Demo is a concept album, which according to Rashad, sums up his adolescent life and mindset in a short period of time. Rashad has been widely known and acclaimed for his live performance ability.
Isaiah Rashad has a son with his long-time girlfriend. Their son was born in 2013. Upon signing to Top Dawg Entertainment he got a tattoo to commemorate the partnership."