Esu The Illest

Hip hop artist

Esu is an Emcee, Born in Baltimore, MD and raised in Aurora, CO. The 21-Year-old artist aims to be more than just your traditional rapper but keeping true to the culture of Hip-hop while evolving the way we communicate through music.

As a child growing up in my household there was always some kind of drama happening. I was the last of three, my older brother is turning 34 this year and my older sister who’s 26 and me who’s going to be 22. With the age gap widespread like that, I was hidden away from the mature conflicts that occurred in the household, and at a point, I just kept to myself for the sake of mother. With all my suppressed feelings and emotions, I started taking an interest in music as an outlet for my expression. Before my father fell ill from having a stroke, He would DJ in his spare time, playing old school funk jams while he got loaded at night. When I got older, I got addicted to Hip Hop. I would go through my older sibling’s music and really got into Outkast, Kanye West, Ludacris, Lloyd Banks, just 90’s east coast Hip-hop In general.

I played the Viola, the guitar, the Clarinet and the saxophone throughout middle school. I was also into poetry. Growing up I was always told I was a great writer by my teachers and peers, so I began to dive into the art of constructing poems because I knew I had something to say, just didn’t have the confidence and self-esteem to be a rapper. I had a friend at the time who thought he could rap. I knew I wrote better than him I just didn’t have the voice or the idea that what I had to say was important until I won the “Do The Write Thing-National Campaign to Stop the Violence” Poetry/Essay Contest. You had to write about how violence had affected you. In my piece, ”When Forever Gon’ Come (’08)” I chose to write about how the world was dark and made me wonder when I was going die, as well as voicing the trials my sister went through with her suicidal episodes and ultimately, a way we can fix these problems. Out of 50,000+ entries in the state of Colorado, I won an all-expense paid trip out to Washington, DC. For about a week, we toured around and saw the capital of the nation before inducting all of the respective winners into a collective of pieces and put into the Library of Congress. I knew from that point on that I had something that no one else had; I just didn’t know what I was lacking at the time.

The high school I went to, William Smith, didn’t have a music program, so I needed to find another way to express myself. I tried to join a local high school marching band, but I didn’t like their attitude from the jump, so I decided, I was going to make beats for me and my friends. I started off on Audacity, just picking apart instrumentals I would download off of LimeWire. At the time, I didn’t realize I was sampling, I just wanted to make music. Eventually, I moved up to Garage Band when my school bought new Macs. It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I’d get FL Studio 9 from the homie. I started working on that and haven’t stopped since. Sophomore year was also the year I started rapping for the first time. I got tired of my friend messing up my beats by not paying attention to the song structure, the theme, or any of those things. My first recording was a 16 bar verse called, “The Eulogy” in which, took me 26 takes to get recorded. During this time, I was going to church and playing for the band. I had gotten back on the alto sax, and under the guidance of my homie Jaseri Dixon, I’d learn had to play the Tenor and the Baritone sax, in addition to teaching how to play the drums for the church.

On Jan. 7th, 2011, I played my first show in a bar under the name Heatwave, as a duo with the homie Yung Spades; I was under the name J-Chris at the time. Spades had gotten kicked out his house and stayed at my place, where we collaborated as Heatwave. We were in my first group that went by, Dignified Hustle. In total, there were 5 members, Crhyme, P-Stone, Yung Rogue, Yung Spades, and myself, J-Chris. We disbanded due to creative differences and egotistical thinking. I was the sole producer for the crew and most of the beats I made for them didn’t get used and the ones that were produced by P-Stone the “CEO” They didn’t feel or sound the same. He was the only one that didn’t go to the same school and grew sour when we worked without him and then the more egos grew, the further apart we grew. So, when Heatwave was formed, it was the result of underdogs forming together to make something better than what was expected. Unfortunately, Yung Spades got kicked out after a few months, and the union fell apart.

In 2012, my senior year in high school, I was contacted by Javan Brooks, The man responsible for connecting 13 artists within the Aurora-Denver area. Together we were called No Voices. Those of us that met up, piggy backed off each other’s styles and grew within our artistry, living by the idea that we are the voices for those that lack the ability to same what we all feel. Before going to college, I changed my name from J-Chris to Joe College; due to the fact the Javan thought it sounded dope and my family called me that a few times when they found out I got accepted into UNC in Greeley.

There, I met Brian Fredrick, AKA Type 1. We met during orientation. We were both students studying business, I was emphasizing in Computer Information Systems, and he was studying Marketing. I saw him with his notebooks and showed him a few things I was working on. He showed me his freestyling ability, and I went home and went right to my notepad to extend my vocab. Over the next few years, we would link up and get songs ready to perform at the open mic nights at UNC, under the name “Marble Cake.” In-between classes and a girlfriend, I worked on my first project,”Dorm 086,” named after the dorm I stayed in my freshman year of college. Brian would link up with local Dj, DJ Dabble, and throw gatherings at his place where freestyle Tuesdays would go down. Dabble would spin beats, and whoever was there would hop on the track and spit. We’d play games and had a great time. We then got the opportunity to show our style on stage at the Moxi, where we would host our freestyling event whenever we could. On top of that, we held freestyle battles and opened for acts such as: Percee P, Blackalicious, J-Live, Afroman, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Dj Abilities, Necro, Nappy Roots, The Chicharones, Sean Price, Pigeon John, Blueprint, Futuristic, Air Dubai, Mike Mictlan of DoomTree, Apathy & Celph Titled, and other local acts within the Greeley-Fort Collins area. We even managed to end up in the Greeley Tribune for our freestyle events we were having.

While I was having a great time being a rapper, my grades suffered horribly and soon I had to drop out and work at Dominos and Sonic’s in order to pay rent where I was at. My roommates went to school and I continued to make music, where I recorded my second project, “REtroSPECT.” It was a remake of Dorm 086 with some new tracks thrown in to keep it fresh. While it was a good project for its time, I immediately began to work on my next project because I know my potential and I knew I didn’t reach it. I wanted something that was undeniable and had solid content that I could feel and stand behind. That’s when I started researching Carl Jung for the project, “Shadow Theory,” which later develops into, “Esu is the ILLEST.” But this was something I knew I couldn’t accomplish as Joe College.

One day, we went to a home studio in Fort Collins where we threw a BBQ for the legendary freestyler, MC Supernatural. We were cyphering and having a good time when he noticed I was wearing a chain I wear made out of pop tops and two ribbons, one red and on black. I told him I wear it as a ceremonial chain to assure a safe a good time at celebrations. He told me the colors represented the Yorubian spirit of the Crossroads and gave me the name Eshu to look up. When I looked the name up, the profile of the orisha connected directly to the research I was doing for what would become my next project.

Not too long after returning back to Aurora in May of 2015, I decided to change my name. I didn’t know what to change it to at the time, but I knew in order to expand my artistry and to fully master my craft, I’d have to embody my entire existence into my music. After playing around with some ideas, I came to the name Esu Hakeem Ashad, or just Esu for short. Esu stands for Eternal Soul Undying and is also the inverse to Eshu who, in some writings, is referred to as a devil figure. Eshu is also seen as a trickster spirit and also a psychopomp, a mediator between the conscious and unconscious realms. Hakeem and Ashad are Arabic for wisdom and power/unity. In a time where I feel like society is doing everything in its power to corrupt the spirit of today’s youth, Esu is the responsive personality that prohibits this destruction. In Numerology, the letters ESU match up to 45, this is a number for compassion and humanitarianism. I then chose to separate my music production from my artistry So, I now produce and make beats under the name DurddyWurrk, and make songs and recordings under the name Esu.

After some months of working on projects, improving my producing skills and working at various places for money, I ran across Mario Salazar, The head engineer and CEO of Music & Money, where I recorded the first official song off of my newest project, “Esu is the ILLEST.” Around this time, my mother had just gotten out of the hospital for having high blood pressure and not too soon after, my friend, Jevon Antwaine Bailey, was murdered in a car accident, days before Christmas. After that, I knew I had to grind out my dreams before I lose any more people I love. Sometime after, I was given the opportunity to be an artist with Mario and his crew. I accepted the offer and have been adjusting to what will be my new life, my actual life. Everything I’ve worked for has led up to this moment where I can make my first solid project that I can be proud and wholeheartedly bring to the people who need to hear what’s on this album.

That’s a summary of everything thus far, hope you have a great day.

Esu The Illest’s Albums

“The Odyssey of Esu”

Album by Esu The Illest

Available for download!