add to queue
Isaiah Rashad Can’t Stop Playing Himself
This is “Add to Queue,” our attempt to sort through the cacophony of music floating in the algorithmic atmosphere by consulting the experts themselves. Our favorite musicians tell us about their favorite music—the sad, the happy, the dinner party-y, the songs they want played at their funeral. In this edition, we speak with the rapper Isaiah Rashad. After taking a five-year hiatus following his critically-acclaimed 2016 album The Sun’s Tirade, the Chattanooga, Tennessee native is back with The House Is Burning. With features ranging from Lil Uzi Vert and Smino to Amindi and SZA, the project has all the right ingredients: introspection, addictive melodies, and sharp lyrics. Below, Rashad hopped on the phone with us to discuss what’s on his playlist—from Aretha Franklin and Erykah Badu to Oliver Tree and Outkast.
JULIANA UKIOMOGBE: What music were you listening to while making The House Is Burning?
UKIOMOGBE: Do you find it helpful to listen to music while you make your own or do you prefer to be in your own zone?
RASHAD: When I’m not listening to music, I’m probably at my unhealthiest. I feel more involved with my day when I listen to music because I don’t be sitting down and listening, unless I’m at a function or the homie’s crib. I’m usually on the go or in the car.
UKIOMOGBE: Are you a playlist-maker, or do you listen to albums straight though?
RASHAD: Straight through, especially if they’re made for that. Some albums just seem to be playlists themselves so I kind of pick off songs from them.
UKIOMOGBE: In your opinion, what album has zero skips? Something that you can play top to bottom and it’s flawless throughout.
RASHAD: The House is Burning. Actually, Ctrl [by SZA].
UKIOMOGBE: Who was the earliest musician to influence you?
RASHAD: Master P made me want to be a rapper.
UKIOMOGBE: What was the last song you listened to?
RASHAD: It was “haircut” by Amindi.
UKIOMOGBE: How do you find new music?
RASHAD: Friends’ suggestions, or whatever Spotify or Apple Music recommends me. I look at end-of-year lists. You know how you wait to binge? Sometimes I wait until the end of the year to see everybody’s lists tailored to different demographics. Some publications are super commercial and on others you can find some pure, untouched, underground shit that’s gonna be popular in three years. Throughout the year, I listen to whatever’s tight.
UKIOMOGBE: What artists have you recently discovered that you love?
RASHAD: Larry June, for sure.
UKIOMOGBE: What did your parents play music in the house? What did you listen to growing up?
RASHAD: Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, The Temptations—a lot of Motown stuff. Erykah Badu, Outkast. Almost anything popular from Louisiana. Gospel, too. I would definitely say my style is an amalgamation of most of my influences. With anything, if it’s not flat-out bad, I can find the good in it. I was listening to SpotemGottem the other day trying to figure out what’s going on with his flow, and I eventually figured out.
UKIOMOGBE: Do you remember the first CD you purchased?
RASHAD: It was 1991 by Azealia Banks.
UKIOMOGBE: What’s your favorite song off that project?
RASHAD: Hmmm, “212.” She has this crazy flow to me. I liked that “Van Vogue” shit, too. It was a short project. I don’t even want to talk about it. [Laughs] But I thought shawty was gonna be up there right now.
UKIOMOGBE: What was your first concert?
RASHAD: The Weeknd. That was the first one I paid to get into. I got fired the next day.
UKIOMOGBE: Wow, really?
RASHAD: Yeah, I was out too late. Couldn’t wake up. This was in 2011.
UKIOMOGBE: Got it. What would you put on a road trip playlist?
RASHAD: I have a playlist for that. It’s actually my everyday playlist. It’s pretty versatile. I’ll put it like this: I do an autumn, spring, and sometimes a summer playlist. I make these every year. Especially living in LA, it’s not a summer, spring, fall thing. It’ll just be randomly hot as fuck in February for two days. So, it just be spring or fall all year to me. I have four versions of this playlist. Right now, my spring playlist has things like “Atomic Dog” by George Clinton, “Certainly” by Erykah Badu, “You’re Dead” by Norma Tanega, “Flashlight” by Parliament, “Bam Bam” by Sister Nancy, “Murder She Wrote” by Chaka Demus, and “Cranes in the Sky” by Solange. I put this shit on shuffle. I got “Hey! Love” by The Delfonics on this motherfucker. “Doing The Best I Can” by James Brown is on there. This is a fire playlist. If you can’t tell, I listen to mostly old music. I’m in a good place. I don’t be gettin’ hype like other niggas do. I like listening to that stuff, but I don’t like for it to be my only go-to.
UKIOMOGBE: Do you set your playlist to private or public when you make them?
RASHAD: It’s all public. I don’t really use Spotify that much. The color waves throw me off.
UKIOMOGBE: Really? I use Spotify more than Apple.
RASHAD: It’s too complicated. It’s always inviting me to do something.
UKIOMOGBE: What music would you play at a house party?
RASHAD: My own.
UKIOMOGBE: What would you play at a dinner party?
RASHAD: My album.
UKIOMOGBE: Do you have a favorite movie soundtrack?
RASHAD: Probably Juno.
UKIOMOGBE: I’ve never heard that answer before.
RASHAD: I love Black people, too. [Laughs]
UKIOMOGBE: What’s your go-to breakup song?
RASHAD: “Damage” by Future.
UKIOMOGBE: What song would you use to describe yourself?
RASHAD: “Fall In Love (Your Funeral)” by Erykah Badu.
UKIOMOGBE: Why that song?
RASHAD: You gotta listen to it.
UKIOMOGBE: What was your first favorite song?
RASHAD: “Nice and Slow” by Usher. He’s originally from Chattanooga, so it’s a hometown thing. It’s the same reason why I think Samuel L. Jackson is a better actor than everybody else. It may not be true, but I’ll defend it ‘til my death.
UKIOMOGBE: What’s your favorite performance by him?
RASHAD: “The Hateful Eight.”
UKIOMOGBE: What’s your favorite music video of all time?
UKIOMOGBE: What song always puts you in a good mood?
RASHAD: “Happy Feelin’s” by Frankie Beverly.
UKIOMOGBE: Do you listen to an artist that people may be surprised to know about?
RASHAD: What’s that nigga’s name with the bowl cut?
UKIOMOGBE: Oliver Tree?
RASHAD: Oliver Fucking Tree. I like his song “Cash Machine.”
UKIOMOGBE: If you were to pick a couple songs to play at your funeral, what would they be?
RASHAD: “by george” by myself. Actually, no. I’m not gonna get into the descriptions of how I want my funeral to go. One, I don’t want anyone to talk about how much they love me and all that type of shit. I want them to talk about the most memorable time they had with me. You know? At the apex of the funeral, I want Aretha Franklin’s “I Never Loved a Man” to play because I play that when I feel like shit. And I usually feel like a terrible guy. [Laughs] I’m just bullshittin,’ man.
UKIOMOGBE: Do you have a favorite TV show theme song?
RASHAD: Scrubs [Starts singing it]. I used to download the theme songs to different shows. Like, “These motherfuckers kinda hit.” I’m gonna go listen to that when we get off the phone.
UKIOMOGBE: Interesting. What’s a song that everybody should know about?
RASHAD: “Score,” by Isaiah Rashad.
UKIOMOGBE: Who’s your all-time dream collaborator?
UKIOMOGBE: Is there an instrument that you’d love to learn how to play?
RASHAD: The heart. [Laughs] No, the piano.
UKIOMOGBE: What’s your sign?
RASHAD: Which one?
UKIOMOGBE: Same. So, what song do you think encapsulates Taurus energy the best?
RASHAD: “Bitch Nigga Please” by 21 Savage.
RASHAD: You gotta listen. You’re a Taurus so you’ll understand as soon as you listen.
UKIOMOGBE: [Laughs] Right. Do you know your whole chart?
RASHAD: I know the whole shit.
UKIOMOGBE: What’s your moon and rising?
RASHAD: My moon is in Cancer and my ascendant is Virgo.
UKIOMOGBE: Nice. So, you’re going on tour this year. Which song from the album are you most excited to perform?
RASHAD: The first date is September 8th in Boston. And I can’t wait to perform “9-3 Freestyle.”
UKIOMOGBE: Why that one specifically?
RASHAD: Because it’s vulgar and the kids love that shit.
Listen to Isaiah Rashad’s playlist below, and follow Interview on Spotify for more.