When you’re celebrating the past and looking to the future there are few things that are important to fully commemorate the transition. Those who honor the past, those who propel the future and respect for everything in between. Last week we hit The Last Encore: LA, an interactive concert experience with TDE’s SZA and Isaiah Rashad, Raury, and DJ Dahi at the Poodle Parlor Now in addition, what makes an event come to life is the music, the food, and ultimately the people. Without question the food, did its part to introduce an inviting space and make me want to learn how to make my own handmade tacos because seriously they were so good. The people, excited about the present, accepting moving from the past, and seamlessly moving with the vibe of the evening only leaves the music, which if I do say so myself, did not disappoint.
I got a chance to talk to the Isaiah and SZA after the show and we discussed new projects, stereotypes about the music industry, and; of course; their AMMO.
Stacy Ike: What’s Your AMMO?
Isaiah Rashad: Myself. I’m trying to get reinsured by myself. Like back when I was 10, 11, 12 thinking about doing all this stuff and all it took was the thought to make you wanna feel juiced.
What’s one thing you always have to do before you get into a performance?
Before I perform? […] sometimes I pray. Because I’ll be having a bad day. And other times I usually just make sure I eat something before I go on stage.
Now speaking of eating, you just did “Free Lunch”…
One thing that was interesting about the lyrics is that it was beyond real. You’re only 25 yet you have all this juice going on. Tell me about the lyrics to this song.
Oh, I Mean, I guess the lyrics to song for me was just a real slight shout out to me recognizing a lot of the stuff that’s going on and, like, where I’m from. So, I don’t know, I took the time out to just point out some ordinary stuff but it kinda just touched on everything. Everything just kinda had, like, a double meaning for me. You know what I’m saying.
I can tell there was so much more to it than people would understand because there was so much honesty.
I mean some days I’ll listen to my stuff […] whatever you gotta say is gonna come out regardless especially if you’re coming from a truthful place. So sometimes I listen to it and I hear the playfulness in the lyrics and sometimes I’ll hear the undertone message so pretty much depending on how I feel I can identify it.
So are you ever afraid of your own honesty?
Nah, not really. I find that real honesty is the most fun to say. Not even the easiest, just the most fun.
Ok so September 2nd, it’s all about to go down.
Where does everybody need to be? Listening to the album with Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister, Ex, Enemy, Friend?
I think when you turn the project on on Sept 2nd I think you should probably…. I prefer if everybody listen to it at 10 pm… 9pm. Be with some open-minded people that just wanna vibe out. Just don’t go into it thinking I’m finna like bring a demolition squad. You gon’ vibe out. You’re gonna definitely be banging your head against something by the end of it. So, prolly 9, 10 o’clock I need you to be tuned in. Just be ready to relax. I prefer you be in the car, have your surround sound going.
Right, ok so even with Tennessee; ’cause I know that’s where you’re from; how much of that do you bring into your music?
I think people only ask me that because they can’t find to many people like of my age bracket that’s from Tennessee.
So I just try not to bait myself into being like my shit’s nothing like older Tennessee shit. I grew up on it so it’s in my DNA. So I don’t really have to… it’s always there. Everything’s always present. I’m 2 hours away from Atlanta, where I’m from. So Atlanta’s present. I’m an hour and a half away from Birmingham, so Alabama’s present. I live in the middle of the South.
Do you get back to family? Where’s family now?
All my family is in Tennessee so like some are in Ohio, some in Illinois but most of my family is in like Chattanooga and Nashville.
Do you still visit often?
I go home probably every couple weeks.
I know you have your son…
Yeah I have my son.
So when you guys aren’t listening to music what are you and your son getting into?
I mean he’s 3 so we do parks and a lot of Super Why! There’s this show called Super Why! We do that type of stuff.
Nice! You’re also a songwriter which is so incredible because sometimes there’s this thing in Hip Hop where people either do their own music or whatever. What’s the experience when you’re writing your music for yourself versus writing for someone else?
It’s probably easier for me to write for someone else.
Oddly enough, going to back to how fun it is to do honest stuff, it’s easier to say it in somebody else’s voice sometimes. So I play around with the honestly then. ‘Cause sometimes writing for you would be easier than writing it for me. Even if it’s how I feel.
You’re also turning 26! That’s exciting. What have you learning from 25?
Uhh. I kinda had an awful year but it was super, like, important. I learned a lot so that’s exciting.
Anything you wanna change for 26?
Man, I’m probably going to….I don’t know. I started, like, trying to take care of myself which is kinda cool. So like the whole like wearing a scarf at night and like washing your face.
Right, the simple things.
That shit’s not simple. It’s incredible difficult especially for me. Man, but I’m trying to wash my face twice a day, just all that kind of stuff. Which kinda seems petty but it’s such a huge lesson for me. And then like drinking water… all those things.
But your skin is great!
One thing that I love about you is your relationship to the music is it’s organic. Because I feel like a lot of people wouldn’t have expected you to get into music the way you did.
Right, everyone I went to high school with is just like “What?”
How did you keep that hidden?
Mmmm, it wasn’t a hidden thing I just didn’t feel like it. And then I just wasn’t into music like that. I didn’t see music as a lane to make music, I saw it as a space to be scrutinized and I’m not into that. So for me I just enjoyed like spectating. Peeping whatever the scene is and having my ideas of music an getting into visual art and maybe film. But I never really thought about me making music so I don’t know.
What’s changed now that you’re in this space?
Mmmm. I definitely care. I can honestly say for sure that I wholeheartedly care. I didn’t care before.
What’s a misconception about getting into the music world that maybe you heard from the other side but now that you’re in it it’s different?
Well for one I think one of the important things was to ignore any rigidity or any random preconceived thoughts or even labels. Because even to hear you say soul now that was like stedfast alternative like, “She’s so alternative.” or it’s “It’s very ‘Portishead'” years ago. But it’ll all transform like with this album it’ll change from soul to something else but it’s a matter of as long as it’s all cohesive with who you are as a human being that shows through your sound or whatever your medium is.
So, What’s Your AMMO?
I’m like deeply obsessed with Missy Elliott right now. Random. She’s just so gnarly. She’s been so consistently gnarly forever and she’s just the shit. The production, the writing, she wasn’t even a singer but the way she sang over everything. But she really was singing like she had vibrato and everything; she was turning up but modestly. She’s my inspiration though but my AMMO is probably revenge.
Mmmmm, tell me what’s up?
I just owe a lot of people a lot of things so I’m going to give them what I owe them.
In a song?
In a lot of ways.
To listen to more from Isaiah Rashad and SZA just them out at txdxe.com.
The adidas Originals NMD-R1 ‘Reflective Pack’ is now available in stores.
– Stacy Ike