The return of TDE’s enigmatic Chattanooga MC Isaiah Rashad is just around the corner, so to drum up interest in the long-awaited LP The Sun’s Tirade, Zay is speaking to the media for the first time in a long while and he’s making some huge revelations.
Isaiah talked with Peter Rosenberg and Cipha Sounds on the Juan Epstein podcast and revealed the cause of his several years-long hiatus. According to Zay, he picked up a Xanax habit while on the Oxymoron tour with Schoolboy Q in 2014 and supplemented that with alcohol, leading to his almost getting dropped from TDE by a concerned Top Dawg. Zay says he picked up the habits because he wanted to “be like everybody around me, all the little, rap n***as
“I f**ked up pretty bad. I almost got dropped like three times,” Rashad said. He revealed he lost some weight and turned to pills because, as he put it, “I was too stressed out all the time and I kept popping pills, I kept f**king drinking. I write raps every morning, but, becoming a professional or whatever, I had access to sh*t I didn’t have access to before. So I could get up in the morning and go buy a pint.”
He admitted he tore his stomach lining, one of the unappealing side effects of repeated prescription drug abuse that rap usually hides. Isaiah said he told his mom and grandma about his issues before taking himself to the hospital and moved on.
The 25-year-old revealed that he was so geographically separated from his label mates that they were unaware of his problems and weren’t able to step in to help him initially. “I don’t see nobody. Dot ain’t in town, and Q is Q, so Q ain’t in town,” he said of Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q. “(Ab) Soul was getting his sh*t together, and (Jay) Rock was getting his sh*t together, and SZA was getting her sh*t together, and SZA be out here (in New York). So, I’m from Chattanooga, ain’t nobody in the South except me.” He also noted that Q had just met him at the offset of the tour, so they “didn’t have that kind of relationship. He just makes sure wasn’t nobody f***in’ with me or make sure I was smoked out ’cause I’m his lil’ homie.”
Now times have changed in TDE though, and Isaiah mentioned that just last week that “nowadays, n***as got health kicks,” so they checked him when he was too hyped up off coffee just to make sure he hadn’t relapsed. He went on to admit that he still drinks, but has kicked the other habits.
As for the turing point, it came via an ultimatum from Top Dawg himself where Zay was forced to either get clean or get dropped from TDE. “I didn’t have a choice bro, it was either that or go home,” he said. “Top sent me away from the squad, I had to get my sh*t together.”
Gradually as he got clean he was given more rewards from the label. “You ain’t heard me drop s**t until I got my s**t together. I got my s**t together a little bit, ‘Nelly’ came out. I got my s**t together a little bit, ‘Smile’ came out. Now I got my s**t together.” With Isaiah’s second album on TDE due out September 2nd, it’s clear he must be in a better place now.
Check out the entire Juan Epstein podcast below with Isaiah Rashad, as well as the tracklist for The Sun’s Tirade featuring appearances from Kendrick Lamar, SZA, Jay Rock and more.