It seems every young buck with a chip on his shoulder thinks he’s a bad ass, but what really makes a bad ass kid? In 1990, at the tender age of 13, Esham set a template for how to terrify your parents, principles, pastors, and role models with his fiery debut “Boomin Words From Hell.” While most rappers are at least a little full of shit when they craft their tales of street violence, one has to question what the hell was going on in this kids head with these sixteen tracks of bloodshed and violence. One thing is for certain, this child’s debut meditation on evil and darkness set the template for a generation of underground rappers with their minds on morbid shit, from Tech N9ne to Eminem.
At its roots “Boomin Words…” is a remarkably primitive record. Utilizing a limited musical arsenal of a bass guitar, keyboard, and an early cheap drum machine Esham built up simple, yet compelling, beats to back his brain meltingly evil lyrics. In an era where Soulja Boy gets props for composing his own beats as if it makes up for his childish rhymes the fully realized darkness that surrounds both soundtrack and verses on “Boomin Words…” stands as a stark reminder that just because someone’s a kid doesn’t mean he can’t have anything to say.
“True” shows Esham started studying Dr. Dre’s funk inflected N.W.A grooves early in his life, while “My 9 Rhymes,” “Wish U Was Down,” and “Red Rum” ride slowed down heavy metal bass lines like zombies crawling from the grave. The metal influence that became more prevalent later in Esham’s career is still in its infancy here, but careful listeners will be able to spot its bloody finger prints throughout the whole record.
Esham’s lyrical influence on rap has always been something of a question mark. Being buried so far underground it’s hard to honestly judge how much his darkness has infected those in the scene, but his rhyme style apparently left an impression throughout his home town of Detroit. D12, Eminem, Kid Rock, Insane Clown Posse (I’ll forgive him for that last one), have all cited Esham’s early records as influences and the pure, uncut, violence of tracks like “My 9 Rhymes” shows a incredibly potent template for Detroit hip-hop.
“Born beat up and always hungry
Never thought I’d turn into a criminal if anything
Runnin from the cops like Al Capone
Goin’ Rambo on them mother fuckers like Sly Stallone
Got a gat in my pants like it’s part of my belt
Suckers scared like butter so they start to melt
I stand silent like concrete in Detroit’s streets
What a rich man throws away is what a poor man eats
When I was 5 my mind start to blow up
Told my teacher I want to be like Hitler when I grow up
When I was 7 disregarded the laws of heaven
When i was 10 I started committing sin
I went to church on Sunday and I cussed out the reverend
When I became an adolescent I never learned my lesson
Witchcraft and voodoo with needles and pins
Puttin’ holes in mother fuckers with a fuckin’ Smith and Wesson
A homicidal vital recital Esham my title
I know my shit is def and I know you want a bite oh
But no don’t do it you’ll be just a carbon copy
Esham is original and everyone else is sloppy
Still I kill I’m sweet like Sugar Hill
Not your average everyday elementary run of the mill
Motherfucker get it straight I don’t battle that’s for suckers”
In the 19 years since his first release Esham has built himself a dynasty of graphic violence, misogyny, horror, and incendiary lyrics in the underground, but he’s also managed to grow as an artist, a feat few rappers with promising debuts at early ages seem to accomplish. “Boomin Words from Hell” is every bit the rough debut it sounds like. The production is incredibly thin, the bass doesn’t so much boom as it does burp, and hearing a 13 year old kid spout off about his body count is equal parts disturbing and eye roll worthy at times after sixteen tracks. But if you didn’t know this was the product of kid just out of seventh grade you’d swear you were listening to a pissed off twenty something who’d rather burn a church down than give props to God between bouts of gunfire. And that’s a pretty bad ass kid. Those with a strong stomach looking for the roots of horror core need to check out these words from Hell.