Although it may be an artist’s dream, it’s also an expectedly exhausting responsibility to entertain a throng of thousands. Especially under the bright festival sun. And specifically, a Toronto crowd. But Isaiah Rashad is only energized by the spotlight he’s just soaked in screams under following a commanding set in Toronto during Manifesto 11’s Live at Echo Beach.
While post-performance cool-down and rest-up periods often take place in the behind-the-scenes green-room or back at the hotel with a supportive band or the trusted entourage an artist has arrived with, tonight is different. Isaiah Rashad wants to celebrate with the city he’s come to visit instead. With his hood up, he exits the stage area and spends the next hour dancing, smoking and Snapchatting with the fans who just rapped along to his resonating words from his Cilvia Demo and The Sun’s Tirade projects, as the sun begins to set over the Toronto skyline while The Internet take the stage.
But while crossing the barricade dividing artist and crowd may have been a rare bonus, Isaiah is holding true to one of TDE’s most long-running habits. From Kendrick Lamar to SZA’s latest album CTRL, the camp continue to sporadically reach fans when, where and how they least expect it.
So, a pretty little bird told me that..
Oh, wow. Did that just happen?
It did. I wanted to be the first one.
You are definitely the first one and I was not expecting that. I guess it’s my song now.
A pretty little bird told me that you originally performed in Toronto for your first solo show. And here you are performing on a major slot at a huge festival in the same city a few years later. What does it mean for an artist to come full circle in a capacity like that?
Yeah, that was pretty tight. It was the first of my shows. People have been telling me that I’ve come full circle. It’s a real great compliment, but I feel like there’s so much more to do. I feel like I’ve grown from one o’clock to three o’clock. Every once and a while I start giving myself credit and it ends up being around the wrong person. And I think that maybe I shouldn’t give myself as much credit.
Obviously, this is a big week for your TDE family. SZA dropped the much-anticipated album, CTRL. For her fans, it seemed like the label was loafting on her with all those delays but when it finally arrived, everyone from TDE came out of the woodwork to support. What’s it like to be a part of a team that rides for each other in that capacity?
Yeah, it’s crazy. I’m so used to it that I get really surprised that other people don’t ride for each other.
You and SZA collaborated on the beautifully written ‘Pretty Little Birds.’ Tell me about the making of that song.
It was fun and I was there. It was at this guy Josef [Leimberg]’s studio. I think he used to work with Snoop Dogg and a lot of other huge people. He’s a fucking legend. Like soul and jazz guys. He’s dope. We were just working in the studio. They told me to pull up just to check some shit out but when I feel like writing a verse on the spot, I do it. Those were one of those times where I wanted to be a part of that process, so it was cool.
Did you know then that it was going to be part of the album?
We just did it. She really redid the project so many times I didn’t know if that was going to be on it. And I didn’t really think about it. I figured it would end up somewhere or it would just be something tight. We’ve got a couple tight things floating around.
So how would you describe the creative chemistry you have with SZA?
It’s like putting glue and glue together. We just stick and spread. It’s not like putting opposites together. We’re the same. I just listen to her lyrics and try and write something around that. Everyone is methodical except for me. I’m just glad to be in the same realm that when people hear my shit they think it’s methodical.
What do the lyrics “these wings don’t spread like they used to” mean to you?
I was just feeling life. I don’t feel as bright-eyed as I used to. I’m still soaring though, dog. Shit is still tight.
What about new music from you?
I’m going to pop out of nowhere on your ass.
I feel like that’s very on-brand for TDE.
I guess. We don’t push it out until it’s ready to do it and then we’re done with it so it’s on to something else. But you drop one bad project and you can’t do that anymore. So, I’m telling myself not to make a bad project. I’m not dropping nothing bad. I don’t drop shit my homies aren’t going to listen to.
Listen to SZA’s “Pretty Little Birds” featuring Isaiah Rashad below.