43. Closed Casket, Esham
At one point on Closed Casket, Esham simplifies his entire life to a biological coincidence – “man, I ain’t nothing but a nut.” It’s depressing to hear from someone so mentally tortured as the Detroit rapper, but if he wasn’t that way we might not have gotten this classic LP wrung out of him.
Before Chance The Rapper was born, Esham was espousing acid rap as his own, and Closed Casket is widely considered to be the greatest manifestation of that sound. The first half might feel slow for newcomers but it picks up on the back side with tracks like “Make Me Wanna Holla” and “24/7.” He released a ton of albums on his own independent record label Reel Life and was even namedropped by Eminem on “Still Don’t Give A Fuck,” but the admiration ended when he dissed Marshall (and Hailie) in 2001. Regardless, Detroit rap fans know his legacy.