WHO IS ESHAM?
Since the inception of his career in 1988 with his debut album “Boomin Words From Hell”, Detroit rap pioneer Esham has shunned conventional industry rules while carving an unprecedented career for himself as the originator of “Acid Rap”. With 50+ different solo and group projects under his belt, he is also the president of his own independent record label, Reel Life Productions.
Esham drops original, groundbreaking projects at a frantic pace with each album offering a dramatic difference in creative vision from the last. The rhymes drip with scathing religious and political commentary while often diving deep into the description of the perilous Detroit underworld. Esham consistently pushes the envelope with new lyrical inventions and distorted musical concoctions designed to leave his fans with an auditory high. Esham’s catalog continues to thrive in the alternative hip hop market.
IN HIS OWN WORDS...
"When I came out with my first album I was just a kid – I unknowingly started the 'Wicket Shit'. If you had asked me then I wouldn't have believed I would spark the creation of an entire sub-genre. Over the years, many have indulged and benefited from the fruits of my labor. I felt betrayed at times but I've given back far more than I've taken from this game. I'm at peace with that. I feel blessed to be considered one of the most influential artists in rap music and cursed to have never been accepted by my peers".
THE EARLY YEARS
1983 - 1989
While most 10 year olds are busy being kids, Esham and his cousin Maurice were busy writing raps – vivid tales of the urban decay and violence that were a part of everyday life for the young duo. Their pursuit of establishing a name for themselves in the music industry was cut short when Maurice was fatally shot in a senseless act of violence. This tragedy left Esham with deep emotional wounds and an obligation to honor his cousin by continuing alone on the path they had once traveled together.
After numerous (and unsuccessful) attempts at landing a record deal, Esham and his older brother James started their own label in 1988 – Reel Life Productions. What began as a childhood dream quickly became a reality following the release of "Boomin Words from Hell". At a mere 15 years of age, Esham became an underground phenomenon, selling over 100,000 copies solely by word-of-mouth.
NATAS IS BORN
The year following Esham's graduation from Osborn High School, fellow classmates and life-long friends Terry Jones (TNT) and Gary Reed (Mastamind) joined Esham in forming the group NATAS. NATAS was Esham's vision to bring his shocking sound to the masses.
"Life After Death" was recorded in 1991 and released in 1992.
By 1993, Esham's hard work was beginning to pay off. The small fortune 20-year old Esham had accumulated began to afford him a life stark in contrast to that of his childhood. His young age, rapid financial success, and lack of life experience set the stage for troubled times ahead. "I was 20 years old with six cars, two houses, and unlimited amounts of cash... We were making so much money we had to hire the same accountants General Motors used."
Esham released three solo albums (KKKill the Fetus, Closed Casket, and Dead Flowerz) in addition to two NATAS albums (Blaz4me and Doubelievengod) during this time.
THE DARK AGES
Esham's brother James was incarcerated amidst rumors of mismanaged funds. Esham was left in financial distress and with unknown enemies around every corner; his feelings of paranoia became evident in both his behavior and his music. "I didn't want to be Batman anymore, I wanted to be Bruce Wayne... He was safely behind the scenes."
Following the release of "Bruce Wayne: Gothom City 1987, Esham signed a deal with TVT/Overcore, a label made famous by Lil Jon and the Eastside Boys, Eight Ball and MJG, Irv Gotti, and a slew of others.
Esham's contract with TVT/Overcore abruptly ended in early 2002 as the label went out of business. This severance became the catalyst for the move to Psychopathic Records. "Me being on Psychopathic was a humbling experience. I learned the difference between my worth as an artist and my value as a person."
Esham released Acid Rain, Repentance, and A-1 Yola before parting ways with Psychopathic 2005.
END OF AN ERA
By 2006, the entire music industry began to change... The days of record stores, hard copy albums, guerrilla marketing, and mail order merchandise was over. Esham continued to record at a feverish pace releasing Sacrificial Lambz (2008), I Ain't Cha Homey (2009), Suspended Animation (2010), DMT Sessions (2011), Secret Society Circus (2011), and Venus Fly Trap (2012).
In July 2014 NATAS released their final album "FUQERRBDY". Six months after the release, Terry Jones (TNT) was involved in a fatal car accident in Las Vegas, NV.
NO REST FOR THE WICKET
in 2015, Esham released his 19th full-length studio album "Dichotomy" – a reflection of his struggle to find balance and truth in a divided world and his acknowledgment of the divides that exist within himself.
In 2016, Esham remastered and reissued classic EP's that had been out of production for nearly two decades. "The EP Collection (1991-1994)" included "Homey Don't Play", "Erotic Poetry", "Hellterskkkelter", and "Maggot Brain Theory" on one disc entitled. Esham also dropped a compilation album entitled "Reel Life Hits & Acid Trips" spanning his entire career was released in July, 2016.
2017 brought the release of "$cribble" and a renewed road game, as Esham began touring for the first time in nearly a decade. After a successful run through the western U.S. on the"Can't Nibble the $cribble" tour, Esham followed up with a 42-date tour American tour on the heels of his 2018 EP, "Dead of Winter".