Ian Isiah has been a member of New York City’s cool club for years. I saw him for the first time at a massive, Black, underground party in the city in late 2016, and his unchained energy permeated his immediate radius. The multi-hyphenate is probably best known for sense of style, and for his heavy involvement with Shayne Oliver’s Hood By Air. But his glistening grill and undeniable skills behind the mic have been affiliated with huge acts, such as Blood Orange and Chromeo. His interests are many, but he’s far from a master of none. Isiah’s a musician through and through.
Ian’s sophomore project, Shugga Sextape (Vol. 1), was released on Black Friday, and fans -including models Alton Mason, Aweng Mayen Chuol, and Yaris Sanchez, and singers Kelela and Kelsey Lu- were thrilled. It’s hard to believe that this is only his second full release (the first being 2013’s The Love Champion), as his sound is polished to perfection. Also, his background in gospel is apparent, the caption of an Instagram photo of his parents tells us that his “mother is a Pentecostal[,] Holy Ghost-filled woman”. His ear and tone reflect his history, which he is righteously very proud of.
My favorite track from Shugga Sextape so far is definitely “Bedroom”.
Isiah’s autotuned voice brilliantly sashays around the melodic production (handled by Sinjin Hawke) of the first single. He talks about beating it up in a way that is so well executed, your mom wouldn’t make you cut it off because of “all that cussin'”. She’d just keep driving and riding out to the cool-colored (synmood music. “Bedroom” can be played over and over again while sounding better with each listen. Trust me, I’ve listened multiple times over the course of several hours.
This project is the re-christening of the artist who calls himself “Big Shugga”.
We’ve heard him before, but this is a queer icon at his finest – ready, daring, and sensual. The vocal manipulations and location-specific lyrics could conjour up lazy comparisons to Frank Ocean, but I know better. This is Ian Isiah. You better act like you know. Selah.
Listen to Shugga Sextape (Vol. 1) below.