Isaiah Rashad powers through hoarse voice to leave fans anything but long faced
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Top Dawg Entertainment may be best known for flag bearer Kendrick Lamar but label pal Isaiah Rashad is a star in his own right.
The Tennessee, US-born rapper admitted to suffering from a "hoarse" voice early on in the night, but that did little to put him off going full throttle in hits accompanied by UK four-piece Oma.
Listening to live hip-hop being performed side by side with a live band at London's O2 Forum Kentish Town, instantly sent my mind rushing back to the first time I saw such a collaboration.
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Isaiah joining forces with Oma was beautifully reminiscent – for me at least – of Mac Miller's special Brixton show with The Internet a decade ago.
Sure the concept of bringing live music to the stage in support of a rapper is nothing new but it's criminally rarely done, let alone executed with such success.
It's hard to believe that Manchester-based Oma had only a handful of dates under their belt with Rashad over his UK tour.
Now it's the turn of Europe to enjoy the link up with Paris, France, tonight all the way to Lisbon, Portugal on April 1 via Germany, Switzerland and Scandinavia.
Fellow hip-hop heads on the continent can look forward to not only the headline show but arguably the most polished warm-up act I've had the pleasure of watching live.
I feel embarrassed to now admit it but Ardn was not a name on my radar at all prior to reading it on the tour poster.
Representing Canada, specifically Edmonton – a good 2,170 mile drive from the shadow of countryman Drake's shadow for anyone wondering – Ardn was as personable as artists come.
A$AP Ferg is not the only one who can put out a hit by the title of Plain Jane as Ardn proved by performing his latest single live.
Hearing Jupier & Mars for the first time was a sudden wake up call to cadence and taste for production that makes Ardn's trajectory to the top a nigh on inevitability.
The relatively small gap in between Ardn and Isaiah Rashad gracing the stage gave me the chance to appreciate just how great a venue the O2 Forum is.
I can only think my previous visits have been standing in stalls because the circle is something I'd remember.
Permitted standing, unobstructed central views and all with easy access to the bath and gents all helped make the experience what it was.
Yes, it would appear my interest in sweating one out near the stage are over and I don't know how to feel about it.
Like any fan of Schoolboy Q and Ab Soul, news of Top Dawg Entertainment adding to their roster with Rashad felt like a football team making a statement summer signing.
The later drop of Cilvia Demo in 2014 proved I was right to be excited, yet last week's Lil Sunny's Awesome Vacation European Tour gig was my first time catching him in the flesh.
It was refreshing to see someone so at ease with themselves in between tracks, Isaiah cut a relaxed figure as he moved about the stage chatting to his DJ and dishing out the odd instruction.
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Seeing the star of the show having a good time will always transmit kindly to the audience. Calm as he was, it's an incredible talent of Rashad's to switch up his energy bring such animated conviction to his bars over the most chilled out music brought alive around him.
It's been almost two years since the Isaiah released an album and I hope we can expect something in the pipeline soon.
In the meantime, Wednesday night was a timely reminder of the rapper's brilliant back catalogue out there to be dipped into on Spotify and the like.
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