top of page

The House Is Burning

by Isaiah Rashad

Released July 30, 2021 via Top Dawg Entertainment / Warner Records

Reviewed August 10, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Headshot (4r Da Locals) (61%), HB2U (44%), RIP Young (37%)

Being that one’s mind is a temple and their body a sanctuary, The House Is Burning is a fascinating, albeit concerning, conceptual point of reference for Isaiah Rashad’s newest album. It all comes after five years spent in hiatus, and while the TDE veteran’s third album isn’t worlds apart from its forerunners—2014’s Cilvia Demo and 2016’s The Sun’s Tirade—it doesn’t mean that the album fails to bring anything new to the table. Addiction, grief, and isolation have long been the conceptual mainstays of Rashad’s music, and as we know, such subjects take a lifetime to truly unravel. Fans have previously only come to know him vaguely; he divulges very personal stories with obscured imagery and fairly coded lyrics. Five years’ time has been significant in this regard, because despite his lyrics remaining largely up to interpretation, Rashad’s framing of his fight-or-flight responses to different forms of adversity bring his lyrics into far better focus. The central reference point of a house on fire creates a very existential aspect to these dilemmas. Despite maintaining the themes that have anchored his previous album’s narratives, Rashad makes subtle, yet satisfying adjustments to his sound. The House Is Burning has the best proportion of pace, flow, and conceptual experience of any Isaiah Rashad album. Among the album’s featured guests: Lil Uzi Vert, Duke Deuce, Smino, and Jay Rock steal the show from the lead artist, but the album is better with these moments than without, and he consistently shines in a number of solo songs. In the end, Rashad’s range of appeal is significantly wider after the well-balanced experience of The House Is Burning. – DeVán (8/10)

Isaiah Rashad has something of a cult following in the hip-hop community. Both Cilvia Demo and The Sun's Tirade are worshipped among fan for their woozy-yet-conscious dive into depression and drug addiction. After five years, Rashad has released his long-awaited third album, The House is Burning. Unfortunately, it is a little disappointing. Despite some strong singles and a few other standouts, most of the songs get lost in a haze, and are at worst completely forgettable. Although I don't see this album aging as well as his others, Rashad fans will be happy to get some more songs after all these years. At the end of the day, Rashad makes music for them, and he succeeds. – Daniel (7.5/10)

Filling that space between consciousness and the sleep state, Isaiah Rashad's hazy second studio album hovers overhead, holding your mental—as the dirty south's dream state—above cloud nine. Rashad’s latest, The House Is Burning, pulls a page from Southern royalty Three 6 Mafia with tinkling hi-hats and soulful samples, synced up to demonic frequencies and smoke-filled fluency. OutKast’s influence is also evident, with their knack for melodious earworm hooks spilling into Rashad’s performance on this record. Top Dawg's underdog has held the position of secret weapon, but secrets can't be held forever. With one of the most fulfilling hip-hop experiences of the year, you can't help but feel that Rashad has more to offer. Some sort of untapped potential or inspiration that unlocks the next level is definitely out there somewhere, and it’s quite the scary thought when you think about it. – Peter (7.5/10)

DeVán: 8/10 | Pax: 8/10 | Cam: 7.3/10

Dominick: 7.3/10 | Alan: 6.5/10 | Hadley: 6/10


bottom of page