ISAIAH RASHAD ALWAYS MAKES US “SMILE”

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LIVE REVIEW: ISAIAH RASHAD @ THE NOVO

LADYGUNN was on hand as rapper Isaiah Rashad rocked The Novo on Sunday night with the final show of his Cilvia Demo 10th Anniversary Tour. The sold out crowd was treated to all the hits off Rashad’s epochal debut EP as well as a host of other classics from his follow up studio albums The Sun’s Tirade and The House is Burning.

Photo by:  Jack Stenzel

In between the initial songs off the setlist, “Zay” dutifully told the stories that culminated in Cilvia Demo’s fruition, including racing to write verses in his 2008 Toyota Corolla before work. After the first few songs, Rashad invited his little brother Dev onto the stage to help him perform. Dev was the first of many stage guest over the next hour and a half and despite the pouring rain outside, the faithful crowd also helped light up The Novo throughout the entirety of the setlist. The concert’s only hiccup came when a fan passed out amongst the ground floor crowd midway through the show. Rashad promptly stopped the concert and directed medical personnel to the attendee, going so far as to run his own water from backstage to be handed out into the crowd to grateful jeers from all sections of crowd.

Photo by:  Jack Stenzel

Rashad’s Cilvia Demo EP came almost a year after he signed to Carson-based record label Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) in 2013, whose other artists include SZA, ScHoolboy Q, Jay Rock, and until his recent departure, Kendrick Lamar. The fourteen song EP full of thoughtful and honest lyrics over knocking, gritty production pushed Rashad to the forefront of exciting young rappers a decade ago, hitting number 40 on the Billboard 200 amidst widespread critical acclaim.

Photo by:  Jack Stenzel

Multiple TDE mainstays were in attendance for the local show, including Mackwop from Mackwop TV and producer Kal Banx, who both joined Rashad in pumping up the crowd. The highlight of the night was the invitation of three random fans from the crowd onto the stage to help Rashad perform songs in the middle of his set. First came a young man named Davis, who summarily impressed the crowd with his energy and memorization of the lyrics. Next came David who fared a lot worse, getting kicked right back off the stage after he couldn’t keep up with the song he was given. Lastly came Nick, who luckily had the vitality and lyrical knowledge to impress Rashad and be accepted on the stage.

Photo by:  Jack Stenzel

The fan performances were nothing short of inspirational to the crowd, who were also lucky to have rapper-turned-chef Hugh Augustine perform his verse during the aptly named “Tity and Dolla”. The final turn for the rollercoaster of a night came when Rashad threw off his shirt and waded into the center of the crowd himself to perform his iconic “4r da squaw”. He finally retreated back to the stage one last time to sign some vinyl copies of Cilvia Demo while “Hey Mista”, a smooth track off his latest album and produced by Kal Banx rang off. The tune helped send off all the satiated attendees who exited back into the atmospheric river downpour waiting for them outside in LA Live.

Photo by:  Jack Stenzel

Although the Grammy’s had just concluded next door at Crypto Arena, Isaiah Rashad gave some loyal fans a smashing set and a strong argument for the best show in LA Sunday night.

Words // Jack Stenzel + Will Bollini

Photos // Jack Stenzel

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