Finding a passion can take years, sometimes decades for a lot of people, but that was not the case for Minneapolis rapper Isaiah Small.
Describing himself as “music-minded,” Isaiah Small has been musically active since age 3, starting first on the piano, making it an easy choice for his favorite instrument. He also describes the piano as the main structure of everything musical, making it crucial for his music.
However, despite his early attraction to music it was not until middle school when he first started rapping. “I started rapping in 8th grade, but didn’t start getting attention until I released the JC – 6 Foot 7 Foot Remix.” Isaiah Small (at the time JC)’s remix to the popular Lil Wayne song has accumulated 400,000 YouTube views (here’s the link).
Having grown up in Edina, MN, one would guess that becoming a rapper would be impossible, but that just wasn’t the case for Isaiah Small. Regardless of the mostly white environment in which he was raised, Isaiah Small has dropped three “projects,” as he likes to call them. His first was debuted in 2012 on iTunes, a project he called The Colour, which ended up selling about 50 copies.
However Isaiah Small credits his success to the networking he has done and also to his shows over the years, rather than the projects by themselves.
Despite what you may think, it was at his local shows where he really began to take off. “I started doing small shows at the Depot and a month later I was performing with Bobby Raps at First Avenue.”
Since then, Isaiah Small has had the chance to perform with some pretty big artists like Casey Veggies and Wiz Khalifa, but he says that each one of his performances have contributed to his overall success, rather than just the one’s with big names.
At each show, Isaiah Small follows a sort of routine; at the beginning of each show he always makes sure his throat is clear but more importantly he always wears an orange shirt during performances. Orange is common trait among a lot of Isaiah Small’s work, his second project is even called Orange Music. Orange is also a way that he wants his music to be, saying that “Some music is dark, some music is light. Mine is orange.”
For Isaiah Small it is not the love he receives on stage that he enjoys the most, but rather the love he receives when he steps off the stage that is the most rewarding thing about this passion. “I’ve never gotten off a stage without gaining a new fan.”
One time, at a show he performed with Pouya, a crowd of people began screamed after he played his song Tribal. “It was amazing, so loud and unexpected.”
It does not come with just good times though, says Isaiah Small, and there is one thing that is disheartening about this passion.
One thing Isaiah Small says is lacking is the money. He says getting paid poorly can create low points in his career, but that does not stop him from working hard every day. “You can find me on a Friday night in February posting up posters for my show on a bike around Pittsburgh.”
All of his hard work, he says, is leading to a day where he can headline his own show and sell tickets online, rather than by himself. But you can’t forget about the money! Understandably, one of his biggest goals in the near future is “to make some damn money!”
However, Isaiah Small says that it is not just the money that is a motivator to keep pressing on. More than anything he uses himself to stay active in the rise to fame.
While he does credit some artists like Casey Veggies and Allan Kingdom as inspirations to his come up, what it really came down to was finding inspiration through himself.Being true to who you are is key in this game, he says, and learning to have your own voice is very important.
One of the most important things he has learned through the years is to be yourself on stage and in the studio, touching back on the idea of having a unique “voice”.
He credits this as the best piece of advice he has ever received, and passes it along to any new rappers as well. This goes back on the aspect of having an “orange” sound to his music, or better something that gives his style and music a unique taste. This is something he also really grasped in his most recent project called Lost in the Sauce.
In this project, he really gets at the idea of getting lost in your
vices, and finding what keeps you going. From the words of Isaiah Small himself,
“If you ever get Lost in the Sauce, hit ya boi up!”