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Isaiah Rashad’s 10 Year Anniversary Live Session of Cilva Demo Jumpstarts Short Tour; Rekindles Old Flames

Evan Dale // January 26, 2024

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Isaiah Rashad

Ten years later, and few – if any – names in all of music have leaned into their artistic evolution more than Isaiah Rashad has since the 2014 release of Cilvia Demo. The collection was the Chattanooga rapper’s first after being signed by Top Dawg Entertainment and still stands today as a paramount exhibition of utter uniqueness and independence free of trends in a corner of music that too often leans heavily in the opposite direction. Each subsequent release – 2016’s The Sun’s tirade and 2021’s The House Is Burning – proved Rashad to be the stylistically fluid, self-reinventing rap alchemist that his debut had promised him to be, meandering through the whims of his creative journey to churn out back-to-back-to-back classics that, though tethered akin by Rashad’s inescapable signatures, are all vastly different from one another.

This, too, falls under that category. Though just 4 tracks, and though of course an unvarnished homage to Cilvia Demo’s impact, Spotify Studio's 10th anniversary live session  of a selection of the album’s standouts is an expression of artistic honesty and vulnerability, in a way that even  his high-energy, highly sought after shows don't convey. Here, acoustic and analogue, he speaks an innate introspection and intimate nature into the project that really started it all.

And past the audio stream, the actual video project is the real meaning of this collaboration. For almost a half-hour, he weaves in monologuing reflections on the project's creation, the foundation it laid for him, and how it all feels to look back on a decade later.


Menthol, RIP Kevin Miller, Shot You Down, and Heavenly Father cascade imperfectly, allowing the musically wide-ranging and ever-authentic Rashad to express the deeper emotionality of the tracks than even his originals could. Here, with a live studio band, he readdresses his early poetry with the maturity and vulnerability of a willing veteran that’s been through the ringer – of an artist, of a celebrity, of a globally acclaimed rapper – to shine a light on what was, and still is a project very much ahead of its time.

Without the bells and whistles of modern production, the collection transcends genre. Isaiah is still rapping – although doing so with the personable tenacity of a living room session – but also singing, and more than anything, existing in some sort of in-between grey area that itself transports a listener to the Chattanooga composition books where these hallowed rhymes were first written.

Cilvia Demo has been covered, as have its many anniversaries, as has every move Isaiah Rashad has made in its wake. But nonetheless, at the same starting point of his short-run 10-year anniversary tour, stopping in Anaheim, San Diego, Phoenix, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angels, Sacramento, and San Francisco, Isaiah Rashad continues to bring a new angle not only to the hip-hop spectrum at large, but even to his own work, come, gone, and back again.

Happy Anniversary Zay and Cilvia.

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