Isaiah Rashad’s “Lil Sunny Tour” rolled into Vancouver this Wednesday, the 22nd of March, as the red-eyed 25-year-old Chattanooga native rocked the raucous Fortune Soundclub crowd once from ~ 9:05pm-10:00 pm and then again from ~ 12:30am-2:00 am.
Rashad is exactly the type of rapper who I am weary about going to see live. He has a unique and airy voice on the record and a laid-back flow which often under-emphasizes his vocals. I’ve seen enough rappers who seem solid if not great on the record but who, when tasked with commanding a crowd, often fall to bits. Breath control, enunciation, energy, and showmanship are all things that can be heavily doctored on a record (perhaps more-so in rap than in nearly any other genre of music). With all that in mind, I approached the Rashad show with a muted enthusiasm, determined not to make a fool of myself by overestimating his live proficiency, mentally prepared for a disappointing display.
Well, damn. Isaiah Rashad made a fool of me. Not only was he able to easily replicate his laid-back and airy flow, but he also displayed a vocal ability that was truly impressive. He led the crowd through a fun, sing-songey version of “Dressed Like Rappers”, and frequently hit notes that you’d expect from a funk-rock frontman – or, at the very least, a Mos Def album.
Rashad then proceeded to shower the crowd with well over a hundred plastic water bottles (cap on) and issue a sweetly-sung warning – “you gotta hydrate to have a good show, you gotta hydrate to have a good show.” After just-a-bit-too-long of said activity, he jumped into an energetic rendition of “R.I.P. Kevin Miller” and, finally seeming to realise that there was a show going on in front of them, the crowd began to mirror his vigour.
Save for a few blessed souls who made it to the front before the foot-shufflers packed the venue full, the crowd failed to take on any real mood of its own throughout the show. Luckily, Rashad brought enough of his own geist to carry the rest of us on his wave.
Rashad played several hits from his 2016 debut album, The Sun’s Tirade, as well as a few favourites from his previous limited releases. He closed out the encore with a cover of Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright”, and the crowd perked up more than for any of Isaiah’s originals.
And who can blame them? Little comes more welcomed than a pleasant surprise.