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In 1992, Esham released one of the most ambitious works of his career, Judgement Day
, a double LP spanning thirty tracks dealing with dark subjects ranging from racism, sexual abuse and drug addiction to religion, sexuality and humanity in general. Years after making history with the first double LP in the history of hip hop, Esham outdid himself by updating the release with two new volumes of music from the same period, completing the overall concept of the morning and evening of the dawn of the apocalypse. "How Do I Plead to Homicide?" oversees the trial following a Satanic murder. Taking the stand, the killer is faced with attempting to spin his lies into truth, but his testimony falls apart once the eyewitness takes the stand. He attempts to plead racial discrimination, even though the entire courtroom is black.
On "I'd Rather Be Dead", Esham deals with suicide, citing issues such as being unable to find work because of one's skin color, relatives freebasing, and lack of sex. Esham moves on to the fate of drug addicts and their children on "Momma Was a Junkie":
Crack pipes, crack valves, cracked up person.
some days it's bad, and other days much worse then.
Used to never go to sleep in fear,
trying to hid the pain, and front like I didn't care.
The neighborhood knew just what had happened to me,
at night they said the devil was rapping to me
"Hit and Run", "I Met This Little Girlie" and "Finger in the Cake Mix" are Esham's outlandish, trippy contributions to the sex rap genre, while "Fallen Angel" expands upon the Detroit-as-hell themes of Boomin' Words from Hell
I was an unplanned pregnancy, brought forth by a mistake
Brought into a world, filled up with lust and hate
Little do I know about life, but I'm still learning
I'm on a journey through hell, without burning
Living in the ghetto, the Devil is now a black man
I saw him standing in the corner with the crack man
Little do I know, this hell is now my home
"Losin My Religion", "Judgement Day" and "Sell Me Yo Soul" deal with themes of religious hypocrisy, corruption and moral retribution. "Living in Incest" envisions the Jackson family in an incestuous orgy, "13 Ways" focuses on suicide, and rock-oriented tracks like "The Devil Gets Funky", "Crib Death", "Dead By Day", "Wake the Dead" and "We Got Some Nonbelievers" continue to blur the lines between hell and earth. Expanding upon these ideas, with volumes one and two named as "Day" and "Night", respectably, the box set adds the third and fourth volumes, "Ascending" and "Descending", suggesting the rise of the morally righteous to heaven and the fall of the rest to the inferno, although there isn't any noticeable difference in tone between the two.
The majority of this material stands as being some of the rawest hip hop you're likely to hear, with the vocals sounding like they were recorded in someone's bedroom, and the bass booming. Esham's production style from this era is sample-heavy, with the most memorable interpolations being the incorporation of Steve Miller
's "Fly Like An Angel" on "How Do I Plead to Homicide?" and Black Sabbath
's "War Pigs" on "Judgement Day". Elsewhere, comedy routines by Richard Pryor
, Rudy Ray Moore
and Sam Kinison
("You were on acid, Manson!") are successfully and originally incorporated into the beats. While Esham's lyrics often blur the line between shock and social commentary, there is no denying his skill as a MC, and the fact that the majority of this box set's tracks -- particularly all of the original Judgement Day
cuts, feature Esham alone, is a testament to this fact.
is not recommended to everyone, but it's sure to be a cult favorite among fans of underground and heavy metal-influenced hip hop, and anyone who wants to discover the roots of Eminem
's musical style.