2008 has been a surprisingly strong year for alternative rapper Esham. When he wasn't lending guest spots to fellow independent rappers, putting together mixtapes, or trying to run for mayor of Detroit, he was putting the finishing touches on his latest album, Sacrificial Lambz
. Well, this is it, folks. After years of putting out albums that were surprisingly mixed in terms of quality, Esham finally comes back with a really good one. For those of you who don't know his style, Esham was the creator of "acid rap", which has been credited for a number of things, most prominently directly influencing rappers like Eminem
, and paving the way for the eventual fusion of hip hop and metal. Following the release of Closed Casket
, Esham began to move away from the dominant use of funk and metal samples that he had become known for in favor of a more natural hip-hop sound. This also crossed over to his group, Natas
(Nation Ahead of Time And Space).
After some particularly weak efforts - Bruce Wayne
- Esham began to return to his heavy use of samples with the release of A-1 Yola
, which saw promise, but was not as good as his early classics. Sacrificial Lambz
tries some different ideas and, for the most part, it works. Still in place is Esham's trademark fusion of shocking imagery as a method of drawing listeners into the deeper socially-conscious material that lies beneath the violence -- something that Eminem has done often, although, not as well as Esham has. The most notable themes of the album are the degradation of popular music, Bush's War in Iraq, the quality of living in Detroit (where the economy is the second-lowest to New Orleans--who was hit by a category-five hurricane), and Esham's sacrifice to the music industry as an artist who continues to make an effort in producing real music in an industry dominated by "ringtone" acts.
Musical themes vary, with "Sacrificial Lambz" fusing hip hop with the music of the middle east, "Get Me Down" mixing with classic soul, and "Garbitch" and "Angels and Demons" dipping into rap-rock. This is an overall rewarding effort from the influential Detroit rapper. Fans of original hip hop and underground music will not be disappointed. Check it out.