Esham – KKKill The Fetus (1993)

I’ve really been digging Esham recently. Well, I’ve always loved this guy (one of the few positive things to come out of my teenage obsession with ICP) but I discovered that a whole bunch of his albums are streaming on Spotify, which is absolutely great news because a ton of his early works contained a pile of uncleared sampling and are therefore seemingly forever confined to the “out of print” section of music industry hell. Asides from downloading some awful torrent files or picking up an overpriced CD when it sprang up on eBay or Discogs, Youtube was the only way to really hear these old Esham gems. Until now.

I’m sure this sample-thievery will catch up with The Boogeyman sooner or later though (edit: Closed Casket, my favourite Esham record, has already disappeared off Spotify). KKKill The Fetus is a close second though, in degrees of “Tha Wicket Shit”. Perhaps unsurprisingly, KKKill The Fetus is a dark and somewhat vulgar hip hop record that gives off puzzling overtones of violence and misogyny. This is acid rap after all, but I fear sometimes Esham’s message is clouded in an attempt to be shocking and offensive; in his early work, at least. The title-track is a perfect example, what should indicate a full support of a woman’s choice to terminate or not becomes a hamfisted hatefuck of an attack against the black lower class, and seems almost to glorify or even revel in the actual process of killing a fetus. Granted, Esham can say what the fuck he likes – it’s his album – but I’m getting mixed messages here.

If you’ve not heard Esham before this older material can be pretty abrasive compared to most hip hop (and no, hipsters; not in the way that Death Grips does it). The entire ICP sound can be attributed to “Game Of Death” featuring Mastamind. To be honest, the similarities here are uncanny. “Game Of Death” could easily have been on one of the first ICP records. It’s easy to see how Esham has turned bitter towards the duo in recent years, as they basically built their success off of his and his peer’s backs.

Nevertheless, this is a pillar in the history of underground hip hop. Without this record there’d may well be no Eminem, and most definitely no Insane Clown Posse.