In a year where more senior members of Top Dawg Entertainment dropped amazing albums, it would’ve been easy for Isaiah Rashad to be ignored. Kendrick Lamar’s freewheeling, almost offhand release of Untitled. Unmastered. in March redefined jazz in the age of hip-hop, and Schoolboy Q’s Blankface LP served as a cementation of his place in the rap game, with a Top 40 single in THat Part to boot.
And yet it was Rashad who made TDE’s, and hip hop’s, best album of the year. Like all great albums, The Sun’s Tirade was not created without stress and strife. In the nearly three years between the release of Cilvia Demo and The Sun’s Tirade, Rashad grappled with Xanax and alcohol addiction, and nearly got dropped from the label for lack of production. The album’s few skits, sprinkled throughout like easter eggs in an old Gamecube game, speak on this point.
The Sun’s Tirade succeeds in the same ways as other great hip hop albums of the past several years such as Good Kid mAAd City, I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside, and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. It sticks to a theme while displaying the artist’s versatility, transitioning seamlessly from track to track as we follow Rashad through his world of narcotics and angst.
The record accomplishes this through sounding like a hotboxed car from start to finish. From the hyped opening on “4r the Squaw” to the classic middle-finger-up bars on “Park” to the wonderfully lazy and reflective flow on “Dressed like Rappers,” we feel like we’re riding shotgun with Rashad on a Friday night.
We don’t have a destination, but we’ve got some weed, and that’s all that matters.