Hailing from Chattanooga, Tenn., emcee Isaiah Rashad is the odd man out among the mostly West Coast Top Dawg label roster, which includes Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock and Ab-Soul. But other than his hometown, he fits right in: his prodigious understanding of hip-hop history is evident on tracks like “R.I.P. Kevin Miller” and “Brad Jordan”, the former a tribute to Master P’s murdered brother, the latter an ode to seminal Houston rapper Scarface. The album boasts a motley crew of producers, most of them newcomers as well; they have Black Hippy’s soul-funk aesthetic down pat, and Rashad’s rhymes explore the tension between hip-hop’s grown-man stoicism and the anxieties that accompany life’s many crossroads. Best of all, the guy can rap, with his dexterous flow flitting its way between somnolent jazz samples and skittering rhythms. From the melancholy soul-searching of “Tranquility” to the confident g-funk of the title track, Cilvia Demo is an ambitious, honest and unforgettable debut.