Editors’ Notes Following Esham’s concept album about death (Closed Casket), the rapper-producer regrouped and created Dead Flowerz, arguably the most straightforward album of his career. Most of the album forgoes the extravagant gruesomeness of Esham’s previous works, and instead presents a focused portrait of an inner-city hustler. The beats are some of the smoothest and smokiest of Esham’s career. “What,” “Kill or Be Killed,” “Any Style You Want” and “Trick Wi’ Me” are immaculately intoxicating, while “You Betta Ask Somebody” and “U Ain’t Fresh” are probably as close to old-school party jams as a horrorcore rapper like Esham will ever come. “Killagram,” “One Day” and “Charlie Manson” bring back some of the morbid psychosis of Esham’s earlier work, but for the most part, Dead Flowerz presents him as a stealthy ghetto denizen. Don’t be fooled into thinking that New York had the slickest street raps in 1996 — Dead Flowerz is every bit as essential as contemporaneous works by Mobb Deep and Wu-Tang.