Music » Livewire

Esham

With Down 2 Grind. Sunday, May 6, at Peabody's.

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Quick, name some Motor City MCs who repeatedly transgress the boundaries of good taste and common decency! Not a difficult question, exactly: That shower-cap-loving lunatic Bizarre as well as rapping rasslers Insane Clown Posse are some of the first who spring to mind -- but don't forget Eminem (who is practically Wayne Newton by comparison). Few minds, however, have plumbed the depths of depravity like Esham, who has memorably beefed with all his fellow Detroiters in pursuit of an acid-rap style that very nearly defines the term "bad trip."

Since the tender age of 13, Rashaam Smith has combined the extreme violence of hip-hop's most street-level practitioners with a sadistic bent that would get his music dubbed "horrorcore." As Esham, his ghostly makeup and ghastly lyrics have not only generated a devoted fan base, but also led to death threats (not a few thanks to his 1993 outing KKKill the Fetus). What's more, his vision has proved too singular for many collaborators; even his short tenure on ICP's Psycopathic label ended badly a couple of years ago. Back on his own Gothom imprint, Esham is readying Sacrificial Lambs, his first album since 2005 and a sure bet to outrage someone, somewhere.

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