Hawthorne Theatre Lounge Southeast
Thu., Jan. 18, 8 p.m. 2018 21+
Recommended by Santi Elijah Holley
Detroit hasn’t gotten the respect it deserves for its contributions to hip-hop, likely because the city’s most famous exports have been Eminem, Kid Rock, and Insane Clown Posse, whose influence isn’t exactly something to brag about. Though the city has also given birth to such remarkable talent as Slum Village, Black Milk, Dej Loaf, and, of course, the late, great J Dilla, when the story of Detroit hip-hop is finally told, it should begin with Esham. His classic debut LP, Boomin’ Words from Hell—released in 1989 when he was just 16—laid a foundation that would be built upon for years to come. Along with his group Natas, Esham coined the term “acid rap,” noted for its ultraviolent and graphic lyrics, which Eminem and ICP would later appropriate. Though Esham hasn’t received the fame or money of his white compatriots, he’s never let it impede his productivity; his forthcoming release, Dead of Winter, is his 17th solo album. Like the city he came up in, Esham has seen better and worse days, but his commitment to the culture is unswerving, and his place in history is indisputable.