September 22, 2023
21 Guests and Online

Esham The Unholy: An Acid Rap History Lesson

The original king of Detroit Hip-Hop! Esham has been rapping since 1988 and even coined the terms Acid Rap and Wicketshit! Insane Clown Posse, Eminem, and Chance The Rapper have cited Esham as an influence, as well as inspiring many of the Horrorcore rappers that exist today.  Juggalo Weekend is completely sold out and the Juggalos that are lucky to have a ticket better not miss a second of Esham’s set! Yes! Esham will be rocking a live set with ICP at Harpo’s in Detroit, Saturday, FEB 20th! Two Wicketshit pioneers together! It’s going to be legendary. Shout out to Esham & Reel Life Productions for this exclusive!

Listen to/Download the Interview:

Erotic Poetry_1991

Chad Thomas Carsten: How would you describe Acid Rap/Wicketshit to a first time listener?

Esham: Well how I would describe it, it’s like a LSD trip. For those who have never taken LSD, it would be uh, a crazy experience ya know, if you never took LSD before. But if you’ve taken LSD and you’re familiar with it, it might even be a good wonderful trip /experience or what not. Ya know? That’s how I would describe it. We try to get real heavy bass lines and we use all different kinds of music as far as Rap, Rock, Jazz etc. We’ve infused every kind of music into one form of music, which is Acid Rap! We’ve taken a little bit of everything and put it into a gumbo. That’s kinda like how I would describe it, like a musical LSD gumbo.

CTC: Wow! That’s a creative way to introduce that. I like that concept *Laughs*. I’ve never done LSD before. Interesting way to put it.

Esham: I mean, ya know, it’s not something that I recommend for everybody. Just like the music, ya know, LSD to each person that has taken it, you might experience something different. For everyone that experiences the wonder that is that drug, just like that wonder that is the Wicketshit, you might experience something different every-time you listen to it. So, that’s what that whole idea and concept is about with the Acid Rap/Wicketshit type of sound.

CTC: Thank you for breaking that down. The EP collection just dropped! For those that may not be familiar with the term EP, can you break that down for us? What exactly is an EP and the reason on why you decided to release an EP in between each album?

EP Collection_Remastered Cover

Esham: EP back in the day, ya know before CD”s, EP stood for extended play. It was almost like a pre-show/precursor to a album. You would put out a EP before the release of your album. You would put out, maybe your single would be on that EP and then you would put other songs that was not included on the album on this extended play. So that’s where that whole thing comes from. And we put out  4 particular EP’s through out my career. And that was Homey Don’t Play, Erotic Poetry, Maggot Brain Theory and Hellterskkkelter. Each EP was introducing a album that was set to come out, ya know.

CTC: All of them are good man! What are some lesser known stories behind the EP’s that people haven’t been heard before or a very rare story?

Esham: Around 1990/91 when we made Homey Don’t Play/when were making the Homey Don’t Play cover and we was doing the whole concept to the record, which was the whole clown concept, the particular car that I’m on the album cover to homey the clown was my first vehicle. It was a 1963 Ford Mercury Monterey. And that was the very first vehicle that I ever owned in my life! I believe I paid maybe like, 1100 bucks for that car. It was old school/ it was a classic. I drove that thing everywhere. My Grandfather happened to give me 100 bucks to help me get the car, I think I was a 100 bhomieucks short. He never let me live it down. I think he lived to be 85 years old and he always asked me about the 100 dollars, in a joking manner. But he wanted it back though. But I never forgot that! I thought that was cool that my Grandfather helped me get that particular car. It wasn’t for the album cover, but it was my first car. it happened to be on the album cover. That’s a little fun fact behind the EP. Actually, when we was doing the album cover for Homey Don’t Play, it was maybe 4-5 of us that was dressed up like clowns. TNT was one of the the guys, my cousin D, couple of the guys from my neighborhood, we were are all kinda like dressed up. And the picture that I took was actually the only one that we used. We had some some other photos, but ya know, just like everything thing else, they got lost, as time goes on stuff gets misplaced, but it was maybe like 4-5 other guys that was dressed up like that. I wish I could find some of the photos, but maybe one day one of them will turn up somewhere. It would be fun to see if I could find some of that stuff. It was just funny. Just before anybody adapted that whole format to their concept and just ya know, helped this genre of music continue to grow.


CTC: Erotic Poetry, I’m surprised that it wasn’t more of a pornographic cover.

Esham: It wasn’t really about porno, even tho there was sex rhymes and stuff like that. But that was wayyy back in the day, even before people were doing any of those (in Detroit). It just me once again, doing like sex rhymes and really finding myself as a artist and trying to get my styles together. So that’s what Erotic Poetry was all about.

CTC: Hellterskkkelter! What was the main inspiration behind that?

Esham: Hellterskkkelter was just basically about police brutality going on in Detroit at the time. Malice Green had just gotten beaten by the police to death. There was just a lot of unrest with the police/police brutality. That record was basically kinda about those type of social situations at the time inside the community and worldwide! It was just a situation with the police, like it always been a situation with the police. That’s what Hellterskkkelter was always really about, like a code name for police brutality or just some fucked up social situation/ some Hellterskkkelter shit. Detroit and Devils night and all that crazy stuff that was going on back in the day.

CTC: Definitely a message you had to drop because of all that stuff going on. Wow! That’s pretty deep, man. Closed Casket, the production is unique and beyond original! Can you explain how you came up with the darker style of beats for Closed Casket? What exactly was your frame of mind at the time?

Esham: Closed Casket, that particular was about, I wouldn’t stay stop the Wicketshit, but almost like a pot bubbling over (so to speak) of wickedness, that I was trying to put a lid on. It bubbled over, ya know. There was no way to close it. They say I’m the one who created the wicket shit and opened the Hell’s doors. But in fact I was trying to close it back with this record. I was like “Well this is the Wicketshit, I’m gonna close this casket on it. I hope no one ever opens this again. I hope I can seal this up!” and that was my thought when making the record and it just turned into some dark imagery/some darkness man. But that was all created from real life/real situations, things I heard watching the news. Just reflecting the things that were going on in 1994 at the time, in my city, Detroit.

CTC: I’m originally from Flint, so I feel you.

Esham: So you already know. Even them times back in Flint, like the whole Michigan. I wouldn’t say it’s not as rough as it now, but it was still some trying times with the social unrest with the police/inequalities in life, I would say. That’s where Closed Casket came from. A lot of young people was dying from Gang violence/black on black on violence/violence against each-other. It was about, if you go to a funeral and someone has a closed casket, 9 times outta ten it was like something happened to their body, where their body couldn’t be viewed anymore. It had to be a closed casket. Something horrible happened. So in a way making that record I was trying to prevent a lot of deaths/things of that nature. You listened to Closed Casket and this is what can happen to you/this is what can get you in a casket. You feel what I’m saying?! I was trying preventative measures, so to speak. That was my frame of my mind when making that album. I wanted to keep it to the Wicketshit, so it all sounds dark and real heavy.


CTC: It’s probably your darkest to date, man. For real! I think it is.

Esham: I think so! I mean, I’ve been listening to it lately. We just did some things. It’s one of my favorites.

CTC: You paint a very vivid picture for “My Homie Got Shot”. You can close your eyes when listening to it and it’s like you’re inside the song itself. Is the track based on a true story? Can we get into that?

Esham: I know a lot of stories and a lot people that I know of have relatives/friends of mine and everybody knows somebody that has been shot. It’s sad to say that. I think 9 outta 10 people know somebody that’s been shot/a victim of gun violence. It is based on a true story. I got cousins/my own family members that have been shot, some even killed/victims of gun violence. So, I would say in that sense It’s based on a true story. Because once again we all got somebody that we know that have been shot or a victim of gun violence. That’s really what the song is about. Somebody disrespecting somebody else and one of the people gets mad and comes back and shoots somebody else. This is what’s happening on the streets.  This is what’s happening today and this is what happened in the past. So yea, “My Homie Got Shot” was based on a true story. It’s still based on a true story, because ya know, people still getting shot.

CTC: It’s just one those tracks that hits you right away! You’re like “Whoa!”. Your wordplay man, it’s so creative.

Esham: You gotta realize this was 1994! And when we made that particular record, I think I recorded that on an eight-track. So there was no Pro-Tools or there was no copy and paste. It wasn’t really easy to do. What is being done on these records (today) once again like, this is not a digital thing. All this stuff is coming through analog. That’s why it sounds like that. This was before digital and you know before the help of modern technology which we’ve all come to love so much.

CTC: For real! Everyone takes advantage of it too. They don’t realize how hard it was back in the day.

Esham: Exactly, Chad.

CTC: Did you mentally picture your own death and funeral when writing the track “Closed Casket”?

Esham: No, actually not. I never (when I was making the record Closed Casket/writing the song Closed Casket) was thinking about the closed casket as being my casket that was closed. I pictured it always as being someone else’s casket that I was looking at. Closed Casket is not about my funeral it’s about the many funerals that have happened and the many funerals that will happen, you know what I’m saying?! It’s about the violence in the streets/children being murdered and their caskets having to be closed caskets from sustaining injuries where their family can’t view their bodies. I was trying to paint a dark picture in order to share some light on the subject. That’s what it was about. I never thought about it as being my death or my casket, it was always me telling somebody else’s or reading somebody else’s eulogy, so to speak.

CTC: From where did you sample the eulogy from?

Esham: The eulogy was actually not a sample. I played all those tracks on the eulogy. That’s an original track produced by (me) Esham. But the talking in there, that’s Richard Pryor and it’s a record called “That Nigger’s Crazy”. And I think that record went to number one on Billboard when it first came out. So that’s where that talking comes from, Richard Pryor, that’s who that is. That’s me scratching Richard Pryor.


CTC: It fits the album!

Esham: No doubt! Richard Pryor was a great comedian, man! I always try to inject comedy in dark situations to lighten up the mood, too. Even tho he was speaking about some heavy subjects and was actually supposed to be taken lightly despite of his dark nature. Shout out to Richard Pryor!

CTC: Especially his comedy stuff!

Esham: That’s right!

CTC: What inspired the cover art for Closed Casket?

Esham: It’s supposed to be like a casket on fire, but it’s not. It’s actually like some roses laid out looking like a cross. Back in these days, you gotta remember Kinko’s was still around. There was no computers and all this shit. People that just have this shit in they house (today). You had to actually go to a fucking Kinko’s to make some copies of something or anything! And there was no fucking Photoshop/Photobucket, no endless supply of images. *Laughs* You couldn’t go in and just be like “Yea I need some fire”. So in order to get that fire on there we had to actually set that shit on fire! We had to set the roses on fire on top of something and then take a picture of it. So you have little roses burning with real fire, so it would look like that. That’s why it looks like real fire, cause even back in 1994 the people’s graphic game wasn’t on point . It wasn’t up to speed like it is today. So in order to even get that effect like that, we had to actually set that shit on fire and take a picture of it.

CTC: Wow!  Man! That just blew my mind right there. We have come a long way!

Esham: My brother was doing all that. He was making that artwork, but that’s how we did it. There was no fire graphic, you know what I mean? *Laughs* You actually had to have that shit or make it. We couldn’t green screen it. Just like the silk worms we had for Maggot Brain Theory, they were right there with us. We couldn’t find that no where, ya know?

CTC: Why did you decide to close the casket on doing the Wicketshit for a brief moment in 1994?

Esham: Since we had started, by the time 1994 hit, it was so crazy! We was getting a lot of protests from a lot of churches, a lot of city leaders and just a lot things were coming down on us really heavy for the music and the content that we was putting out.

CTC: Especially with Natas!


Esham: With all those things! So by the time I was making Closed Casket, it was so heavy and people were taking art and misinterpreting the art and they were misinterpreting us as entertainers. I was trying to say “Well I’m closing the casket on this, this is just art”, because people were coming down so heavy on us. In spite of a dark nature, I was trying to bring light to a dark subject. So I was attempting to right some of the wrongs, so to speak, by saying, “I’m trying to tell you all, don’t do this, you’ll end up like thi, if you do this!” *Laughs* The wicketshit will never die. Even though I don’t want wrong to happen in the world, it’ll always continue! It’s outta my hands!  Even though I could be the most righteous person in the world, it’s outta my hands. I attempted to close the casket, but once again the Wicketshit will never die! It’s just the way of the world, it’s real life. Life is the Wicketshit.  Real life! Things happen out here and will continue to happen. That’s what that was about.

CTC: *In appreciation to Esham’output_zpsmegrpcqhs answer* Thank you! You’ve been remastering/re-releasing a lot of your early work. Are there plans to release anymore remasters?

Esham: Oh, hell yea! We’ve been doing so great with the remastering and these timeless classics deserve a second listen. The next remaster classic that we have will be Closed Casket! Like I say, all of these things deserve a second listen, because when we recorded these records they were done in analog and you know just with the beauty of modern technology we were able to go back in those records and tweak them and turn everything up and give people a chance to appreciate the magic that actually happened on those records. You know it’s not pro-tools and it’s not cut and paste! You know there were turn tables and things being played live. We couldn’t just loop something up. Shit had to be played for 4 minutes or however long the track was, you know what I’m saying?! *Laughs* It was lot of hard work that went into that. These timeless classics deserve a re-listen, so that’s why we’re remastering them. And yes, we have Closed Casket coming up and we’ve got a few more surprises that people need to be checking out for coming up in the future.


CTC: I’m excited for it. It’s Detroit Hip-Hop history. People gotta know where it started.

Esham: It’s all good man, because you know it’s all Detroit! And hey, it all comes back in the end to where it all started. So it’s all good!

CTC: Speaking of 1994! Insane Clown Posse will be performing Ringmaster in it’s entirety on Day 2 of Juggalo Weekend! You will be performing as well! That blew peoples lids (in a positive way). They’re excited that you’re on the bill. Have you and ICP officially buried the hatchet?

Esham: It’s just like anything else. It’s business. Business shit happens. People have disagreements. A lot of people hear stories and it’s just like a game of phone tag. By the time it gets back to me, it’s not the same story that it is and peopClosed Casket_Remastered Coverle  really have no idea what they’re talking about and really what’s going on with the situation as a whole. I would say yes, we’ve all put this behind us, because we know that in the greater sense of the art form and what’s best for the people and the culture, that we all get a long and we’ve all been getting a long. But it’s just business. And it’s just like family, man. You have disagreements with your family and it’s nothing, you get over it and you move on. And I think that that’s what everybody has done. We’re moving on and we’re all just grown man. We can get a long and agree to disagree and we can still enjoy the music and the art form all together and celebrate the Wicketshit together! That’s what we chose to do and that’s what it is.

CTC: Hell yeah to that man! I’m really looking forward to seeing your set that day. I know it’s going to be kick ass!

Esham: Hell yeah man!

CTC: What are you looking forward to the most about the show? How excited are you?

Esham: Awe man! I’m excited to come back home to Detroit! I haven’t been there in awhile. I’m excited to just hang out with my bros, see all the people and have a good time man! I’m excited to come bring the Wicketshit on February 20th! That’s actually two days before TNT’s birthday. RIP to TNT. So I’ll be celebrating TNT‘s birthday and we’ll all be celebrating the Wicketshit on those days man. And that’ll be the shit!

CTC: Shout out to TNT! RIP!  Are you planning on working on anything with Daniel Jordan, because fans love your guys’ work together from what I’ve seen within the underground.

Esham: We done that project with Daniel and Daniel Jordan is a good friend of mine. I wish him the best. We work with Daniel from time to time. I haven’t heard nothing lately and I haven’t talked to him in a minute, but I wish Daniel the best and if he needs my help on something I’m always there for Daniel. Maybe in the future, who knows.

CTC: WhatJuggalo Weekend_Day 2 Flyer is the future of Esham? What can we expect?

Esham: Well shit, I mean, man! The future, we’re doing more shows. Back in the studio just concentrating on some good music and making sure we get the company up to speed and bringing it to the future where needs to be. Looking forward to new music and all type of shit, man. Staying very busy! The future is looking very bright! I need some sunglasses! That’s all I can say about it. I’m very excited about it. We got a lot of things on the plate, man. I don’t wanna give away too much, but we gotta a lot stuff in store. We appreciate everybody for supporting us and keeping the Wicketshit alive and keeping it going. We’re here for the long term. We’re here to entertain and like I said, keep the culture alive.


CTC: You guys are keeping alive. It’s cool that RLP is back to it’s fullest and just kicking ass, man! I think new fans are discovering your music, because you’re re-releasing the albums.

Esham: No doubt! It gives everybody a chance to really just take a listen to where this all came from/where it all started. Just join the ride and catch the Wicketshit wave. It might start at Esham, but who knows where you’ll end up. You might end up on ICP, you might end up on Twiztid, hell you might even end up on some Tech N9ne. But it’s all part of the Wicketshit wave. Doesn’t matter how you start or where you end up, just catch the wave. It’s all about the Wicketshit, it’ll never die!

CTC: Thank you Esham! This was an honor to do man! I’ve been wanting to do this interview for awhile. It’s cool we got to work together on this. I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to this, man. For real!

Esham: Nah, thank you Chad! I’ll do it anytime. I appreciate the look, man.

Pre-order the Closed Casket remaster on

Interviewer: Chad Thomas Carsten

Interview Date:01/28/16



Enjoy the article so far? Recommend it to your friends and peers.


Be the first to our articles and get the latest updates.

    Faygoluvers Comments

  1. nataslewis

    Comment posted on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016 05:07 am GMT -5 at 5:07 am

    man I hope he does some new tracks with icp or someone from psychopathic

  2. TravisKing

    Comment posted on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016 12:07 pm GMT -5 at 12:07 pm

    Great interview I think since ICP doing the whole Ringmaster album it would be dope for Esham to do the whole Closed Casket album as his set but whatever he does I know it will be the shit

You must be logged in to post a comment.