Isaiah Rashad doesn’t miss. On July 30, the self-proclaimed Tim Duncan of rap launched his new album, The Home Is Burning, to widespread vital acclaim and fan approval. The Home Is Burning is Rashad’s third official venture, following the discharge of a stellar studio album, The Solar’s Tirade, in 2016 and breakout debut EP, Cilvia Demo, in 2014.
Born and raised in Chattanooga, Tenn., however based mostly in Los Angeles, Calif., Rashad was as soon as heralded as “subsequent up” and “rising star” amongst a TDE superteam of Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, Jay Rock and SZA. With The Home Is Burning debuting at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 chart as of Aug.8, it’s protected to say that 30-year-old Isaiah Rashad (who additionally goes by Zay) has arrived in fully-fledged famous person mode.
“In my thoughts, I’m three-for-three with this shit as a younger n****,” Rashad tells SLAM. “I’m fascinated with being Tim Duncan in 2003 sort of shit.”
The Spurs comparisons don’t cease there. In reality, his father was an enormous Spurs fan, so Rashad himself grew up with a deep appreciation for the pass-heavy San Antonio system of the early 2000s. “With the ability to be programmed early watching basketball, I kinda appreciated the basics of basketball, and the teamwork facet,” Rashad says.
There’s a parallel between Rashad’s love for teamwork and the way he approaches his personal artistry. “I deal with my options like weapons. I’m like, ‘who’s gonna are available in proper now, and who can I move this rock to?’ I feel I get rattling close to the perfect verses anytime someone will get on my music. Artistically, that shit is like an oop.”
On The Home Is Burning, Rashad enlists assist from collaborators together with Lil Uzi Vert, 6LACK, Duke Deuce and Smino, and calls on labelmates SZA and Jay Rock to spherical out the 16-track album. “[The songs] are catered to them greater than myself,” Zay says. “I do know I might give you some loopy shit alone, nevertheless it feels cooler having the ability to name someone and be like ‘Yo—we did that shit.’”
Aside from being tremendous f**kin’ expert in his personal proper, one in all Rashad’s largest strengths is he is aware of how and when to depend on different proficient folks, whether or not it’s a fellow artist, a producer, or a supervisor.
“There’s actually good freestylers or battle rappers who’ve actually good fundamentals down, and so they be a kind of guys who kill your ass at Venice proper now—they’ll ball out like Kobe at Venice. However if you happen to put them on the fuckin’ flooring, they don’t know work in a workforce system,” Zay says. “It’s a workforce factor with you and the beat, and also you gotta know who you playin’ with, and with the producer and what you are able to do with that shit.”
Rashad faucets into a various vary of feelings in his music—an final result born from his versatility within the studio, the place he places care and thought into each chord, ad-lib, or automotive ignition sound impact. The Southern influences on The Home Is Burning are well-placed, from the Venture Pat and Three 6 Mafia-sampled tracks to the extra delicate logos like gradual pacing and scratches. “I attempt to modernize one thing that’s not happening proper now,” Rashad says, citing Aretha Franklin and Lupe Fiasco as different artists he research and admires.
The album’s eclectic sound makes for a elegant product.
“I’m not gonna rap ideally how I wish to on each beat, so I gotta modify to it,” Rashad says. “Generally I gotta get on a beat and I gotta simply play protection the entire time and do countermelodies. Like, I is perhaps identified for driving beats, however I can’t trip that beat—however I like that mothaf**ka, so I gotta give you one other technique to modify, so on the finish, I can know that I conquered that mothaf**ka.”
All through our 30-minute interview, the dialog at all times circles again to the NBA. Zay’s been rocking with Giannis Antetokounmpo for the previous eight years and was glad to see him get a championship with the Bucks. Wanting forward, Rashad thinks the Lakers have a great probability of successful the ‘chip subsequent yr, citing the addition of Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Trevor Ariza and Dwight Howard as proof that LeBron James can now facilitate much more throughout the offense, and doubtlessly even go after a DPOY trophy if he so chooses. Rashad ranks LeBron over Michael Jordan as a basketball participant, however gave Jordan the nod over ‘Bron as a ‘pure athlete.’ Backside line, the TDE rapper is a terrific hoops analyst, along with his many different abilities.
So, what’s subsequent for a rap star coming off three profitable tasks? After a five-year hiatus between his earlier two tasks, Zay might doubtlessly provide his fanbase with extra constant music within the close to future.
“My excellent schedule could be I drop some shit yearly that was simply tester music. And to some folks, it is perhaps the perfect venture I did, so possibly 10-11 tracks yearly. After which each third or fourth yr, just like the Olympics, is after I summarize what’s actually happening in my life, and provides [the fans] an actual piece of labor, and never simply an exhibition.”
If Rashad assaults his future tasks with the identical work ethic, dedication, and focus as The Large Basic, then he’s on the appropriate path.
“The way in which I be successful, some folks don’t prefer it…And I’m like, that appears like the way in which folks speak about Tim Duncan. That appears like how folks speak[ed] about him his complete profession. I’m like, I like it. I’m finna get this fuckin’ mid-post bounce shot in your ass, and I’m finna make it look actual, actual, actual straightforward. And it’s gonna appear to be I’m not attempting in any respect.”
Eli Schwadron is a contract author and youth basketball coach based mostly in Washington, DC. You possibly can comply with him @eschwad on Twitter and Instagram.
Photographs by way of Vince Nolan and Getty Pictures.