A.1. Yola

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Fifteen years after a teenaged Esham made his recorded debut, he continues to spin some of the darkest, most twisted street stories, on his 2005 release A-1 YOLA. Long before Eminem and Insane Clown Posse started selling millions of records, Esham was the voice of Detroit hip-hop, with his inspired, grimy, psychopathic raps. He dubs his style "acid rap," and his sordid tales show no sign of losing potency on A-1 YOLA.

Esham reaffirms his place in the hip-hop upper echelon with the opening track, "Since Day One," a commanding, bombastic track, where he reflects on where he's been and proves that he's still running strong. During the course of A-1 YOLA, Esham takes the form of street hustler, kingpin, vampire, and all sorts of underworld characters, injecting his undiluted personality into each three-to-four-minute sketch. His sonic backdrop remains raw but fresh, drawing an impressive amount of energy out of sparse beats. After many years of sinister yarns, Esham maintains the power to unsettle with his deeply etched rhymes.

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