Esham Attica Smith best known by his stage name Esham is an American rapper from Detroit, Michigan known for his hallucinogenic style of hip hop which he refers to as "acid rap". That style of music fuses rock-based beats and lyrics involving subjects such as death, drug use, evil, paranoia and sex.
Born Esham Attica Smith in Long Island, New York (although some websites report his birth name name as Rashaam Smith). Esham grew up splitting time between the Seven Mile neighborhood on the East side of Detroit, where he lived with his mother, attending Osborn High School,and lived with his grandmother in New York during summers.
While most 10 year olds are busy being kids, Esham and his cousin Maurice were busy writing raps – vivid tales of the urban decay and violence that were a part of everyday life for the young duo. Their pursuit of establishing a name for themselves in the music industry was cut short when Maurice was fatally shot in a senseless act of violence. This tragedy left Esham with deep emotional wounds and an obligation to honor his cousin by continuing alone on the path they had once traveled together.
After numerous (and unsuccessful) attempts at landing a record deal, Esham and his older brother James started their own label in 1988 – Reel Life Productions. What began as a childhood dream quickly became a reality following the release of 1989's "Boomin Words from Hell". At a mere 15 years of age, Esham became an underground phenomenon, selling over 100,000 copies solely by word-of-mouth. Of the album, Smith stated, "It was the crack era, and that's where all that really came from. It was all an expression about '70s-'80s drug cartel Young Boys Incorporated, Mayor Coleman Young, the city we lived in and just the turmoil that our city was going through at the time. We referred to the streets of Detroit as 'Hell' on that record. So that's where my ideas came from."
Following Esham's graduation from Osborn High School, fellow classmates and life-long friends Terry Jones (TNT) and Gary Reed (Mastamind) joined Esham in forming the group NATAS. NATAS was Esham's vision to bring his shocking sound to the masses.
"Life After Death" was recorded in 1991 and released in 1992.
By 1993, Esham's hard work was beginning to pay off. The small fortune 20-year old Esham had accumulated began to afford him a life stark in contrast to that of his childhood. His young age, rapid financial success, and lack of life experience set the stage for troubled times ahead. "I was 20 years old with six cars, two houses, and unlimited amounts of cash... We were making so much money we had to hire the same accountants General Motors used."
In the mid 1990's Esham's brother James was incarcerated amidst rumors of mismanaged funds. Esham was left in financial distress and with unknown enemies around every corner; his feelings of paranoia became evident in both his behavior and his music. "I didn't want to be Batman anymore, I wanted to be Bruce Wayne... He was safely behind the scenes."
Following the release of "Bruce Wayne: Gothom City 1987, Esham signed a deal with TVT/Overcore, a label made famous by Lil Jon and the Eastside Boys, Eight Ball and MJG, Irv Gotti, and a slew of others. Esham's contract with TVT/Overcore abruptly ended in early 2002 as the label went out of business. This severance became the catalyst for the move to Psychopathic Records. "Me being on Psychopathic was a humbling experience. I learned the difference between my worth as an artist and my value as a person." In Esham 2005 left Psychopathic in to relaunch Reel Life/Gothom.
By 2006, the entire music industry began to change... The days of record stores, hard copy albums, guerrilla marketing, and mail order merchandise was over. Esham continued to record at a feverish pace releasing Sacrificial Lambz (2008), I Ain't Cha Homey (2009), Suspended Animation (2010), DMT Sessions (2011), Secret Society Circus (2011), and Venus Fly Trap (2012).
Esham's discography consists of over fifteen solo-studio albums and over twenty-three including NATAS 8 studio albums, and eight EPs, as well as ten singles, 5 mixtapes, three compilation albums, 45 music videos, and many appearances on other artists' tracks and on compilations.
Complete Discography on Wikipedia