Isaiah Rashad’s Tape Leak Illustrates The Glacial Pace Of Change

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A tape has been circulating across social media outlets, said to capture Isaiah Rashad engaging sexually with two other men.

As a music publication, it’s difficult to oversee given instances occur time and time again. Only recently we witnessed the opportunist motives behind recent Disney+ series Pam & Tommy, which detailed the unravelling of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s ‘sex tape.’ One would think that the gossiping days of Perez Hilton, TMZ and Lipstick Alley were gradually deterring, particularly with the wider, more vocalised conversations surrounding mental health.

Yet it’s easy to lose hope when these boundaries are persistently ignored, all at the expense of an individual’s dignity and is somewhat justified by the idea that this is the sacrifice one has to make when they enter the public eye. If that were the case, we would urge all great musicians to stash away their material in their basements, in hopes to protect their private lives by avoiding any form of appreciation or recognition. This is of course, not our concluding standpoint yet, these recurring antics can at first, deem an apparently ‘woke’ society as undeserving of life-transforming art.

The case of Isaiah Rashad is no different.

Last year’s The House Is Burning marked the return of Isaiah Rashad, after a turbulent five year hiatus which is reflected upon throughout the 16-track project. It is a project that shared enormous obstacles within the TDE rapper’s life, from depression, to severe drug addiction and the all-time lows of a new-found fame.

Thematically, the hip-hop community may have been expecting a darker, down-tempo listen. Yet, there is an uplifting aspect that runs throughout the tracklist, one that steers away from the obvious answer to more introspective and revealing lyricism and embodies an acceptance for the self – Rashad is far from perfect, but he’s at peace with his reality.

Musically, ‘The House Is Burning’ exemplified this and is possibly the reason it landed itself #9 on CLASH’s Albums Of The Year.  

Singled out as one of the few lyricists who is quick to dismiss a polished, in turn, hardened exterior, and has been doing so since his 2014 mixtape ‘Cilvia Demo.’ On the confessional ‘Heavenly Father,’ Rashad writes…  

I’m prayin’ that I make it twenty-five
Baby call a doctor for my health
And “no” is kinda hard to say to drugs
‘Cause I been havin’ problems with myself
And I been askin’ questions, where the love?
And they don’t give me answers, just a check

It’s this same debut project that launched the rapper into a glorified, quick-fix concept of ‘fame.’ However, there is an understated reality that can result from a flux of industry pressures and momentary wealth, paired with childhood traumas and substance abuse – one Rashad has openly tackled across his discography.  

Last year, Isaiah Rashad touched on the topic with GQ

“As a person who doesn’t really care for people to know about my personal life outside of what I want to share, I expect them to separate. I would hope they separate.” 

There’s two issues that haunt a tape as such being leaked. The first is not only a disrespect towards privacy, but in turn the transparency displayed throughout Rashad’s artistry, which has already been generous in its discussion of personal matters. The second, and in some ways the most obvious, is the malicious intentions directed towards someone who’s already expressed their own vulnerability and mental struggles.

However, if one were to take away something from what’s unravelled across the last few days, it is the strengthening support from fans, and the wider music community. At a mere scroll through Twitter threads, the villain of this situation is the anonymous user behind the leak. Following previous leaks, the media has been quick to attack and demonise the subject in act of grievous victim-shaming.

Perhaps attitudes are changing; indeed, the following would be indicators as such…  

@djordxcI hope Isaiah Rashad is well. As a consumer/fan of his music, he’s been very vocal in his lyrics about suicide, self-harm and his battles with depression. These things aren’t considered in outing-culture though— only the thrill of catching and/or spilling someone else tea.

@dukedeuce901Another man’s preference ain’t got shit to do with me nor anyone else. Isaiah Rashad you a great mf artist keep your head up brother. CRUNKSTARZ dgaf what others think of them

@taygrayofficialThis Isaiah Rashad thing actually makes my stomach crawl. The PTSD of being outed when you didn’t do anything to anybody…I’m deadass sick. Whoever did that is beyond low.

There is a great importance to starting with the music, and concluding with the music – because this is ultimately what matters above all. Or should matter above all, at least. In this day and age, a perspective as such might come off as idealistic yet, perhaps increasingly the realms of social media and the intrusions into the lives of creators is corrupting the music landscape. Particularly with an artist of Rashad’s calibre whom centres himself within his lyrics – he’s speaking all the truths you’ll need to hear from him.

The rest, to be quite frank, is none of our business. Let’s be more appreciative of our artists and the work they share with us.

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Words: Ana Lamond

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