Forced to reckon with an overwhelming onslaught of urban maladies—economic deprivation, rampant crime, government corruption, crumbling city services, failing schools—Detroit MCs have historically been among hip-hop's feistiest and filthiest, truly putting the "hard" into "hardcore."

Few were fouler than Esham, who helped pioneer the fusion of rap and metal in the early 1990s, welding hard-rock riffs to increasingly lurid subject matter on a series of records on his own independent label Reel Life Productions. Esham would later join up with Mastamind and T-N-T to form the "acid rap" trio Natas (Nation Ahead of Time and Space, but, yeah, Satan spelled backwards), who generated their own sensational headlines in 1992 when a Tennessee teenager killed himself playing Russian roulette after listening to their Life After Death album while stoned.

Esham "Redrum" (1990)
Esham "Judgement Day" (1992)
Natas "Fuck the World" (1995)