The 411 On The 313: A Brief History of Detroit Hip-Hop Image via Discogs / Reel Life

Detroit Storytelling (and The Controversy That Came With It)

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)

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