Call this compilation Esham Rising, ‘cuz Detroit’s legendary wigged-out, quasi-Satanic, dark-side-of-the-acid-tab MC is, as they say, "having a moment." His years of ruling Detroit’s hip-hop underground and underworld have paid off recently with his signing to national indie TVT and he’s taking full advantage of it. "Bootleg"
unleashes Esham in all his freaky-flow glory upon an audience that, thanks to the popularity of Esham’s spiritual protégés, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope, is primed for the no-taboo-too-taboo flow of this Motor City mic master. In an entertainment climate where there ain’t much shocking, Esham’s left-of-left-field, extreme rhymes are shocking really. From his R&B flavored raw-libido treatise on strippers and their labial virtues, "Black Orchid," to the old-school horror-rap paranoia of "Midnight Hour," Esham goes where few dare and, over this comp’s span, gives testimony to his true influence on the Detroit style that’s been translated to the pop charts by Eminem, ICP and Kid Rock. But it’s Esham’s anything-goes artistry that provides the common ground where rock-crit geeks like me and the kids in the pit can meet. Absurd, offensive, but stylistically daring throughout, maybe we can catch Esham on the Grammys some day and the rest of the country will get a taste of Detroit proper.