Last updated: 11/16/2013 07:30:48 PM
Few rap artists can match the accomplishments of Erik Schrody, a.k.a. Everlast. From his days as the leader of the multi-platinum Tommy Boy Records crew House Of Pain and beyond, Everlast's roughneck sound and style helped pave the way for the current generation of hip hop hooligans.
He came out as part of Ice T's L.A.-based Rhyme Syndicate Cartel, made 1990's Forever Everlasting album, then left to form House Of Pain with his pals Danny "Danny Boy" O'Connor and Leor "DJ Lethal" Dimant. Three albums and five years later, Everlast steps out on his own again with Whitey Ford Sings The Blues, fifteen honest, artistic tracks, replete with introspective lyrics, soulful guitar playing -and of course, state-of-the-art hip hop beats.
"What I'm trying to do is 'if Neil Young or Willie Nelson was a b-boy.' Attitude wise, Johnny Cash is a b-boy. Some of the ideas on the records were like, 'What would happen if Ritchie Blackmore met Timbaland?' Seeing Wyclef do his thing with the guitar I was like, 'That's cool, but what about writing something original?' We've seen the rap karaoke thing one too many times.
Now cats take an entire old song, put a few updated slang words in it and it's the hip thing. Too many fifteen year old kids think Puffyand Mase rhyming over 'The Message' is the hottest shit they ever heard, and they ain't never even heard the real 'Message.'"
Whitey Ford was put together by Dante Ross and John Gamble - the Stimulated Dummies - E-Swift produced one track and so did Divine Styler. Guest appearances include Sadat X of Brand Nubian and Prince Paul, with some fresh bass lines courtesy of Norwood Fisher from Fishbone.
Everlast played all the guitars on the record, and wrote most of the album with the exception of samples. Hip Hop purists may wonder what the hell's going on here, but Everlast deserves props for coming up with some deep material that's guaranteed to stand the test of time. "I'm a little older and the music is more mature," he reflects. "It's different from House Of Pain - which was drinking beers and slamdancing."
Needless to say, Whitey Ford was thrown into disarray a few months ago when Everlast needed emergency open-heart surgery. He was born with a heart defect, and during the last dayof making the record, tore a muscle in his heart and was rushed to the hospital, where he got a heart valve replacement. "It was ill," he explains. " One minute I'm in my house and then I wake up in the hospital four days later." That near-death experience was a huge wake-up call.
Everlast reflects on the eerie coincidences found throughout the album: "After the heart attack, I listened to the record and there's a lot of death on it. 'Death Comes Callin' is a song about watching what you do andwhat you say because you never know when death's gonna knock on your door. The song 'Painkillers' is all about winding up in the hospital. The funny thing about 'Painkillers' is that it's a fabricated story but there's a part of it that is so near-to-life as far as me getting wheeled into the hospital.
One of my buddies said, 'You should die at the end of that story.' I said, 'Nah man, that's tempting fate.' It makes you wonder how much your mind knows that you don't know consciously. I listen to the record - and my mind and my spirit obviously knew something was coming.
Everlast's tasty guitar work and deep blues-flavored linguistics are most evident on the album's first single 'What It's Like,' an acoustic/electronic blue-collar jam of hard-livin' in real-life Americana. "It's three little stories based on experiences I've had in my life. The first verse is about this guy shitting on this bum, telling him to a get job.
That was me one day back when," explains Everlast. There are two songs back-to back at the album's onset called 'Dollar Bill' and 'Ends.' "They're both about money, but they're two different attitudes towards money. 'Dollar Bill' is about 'I gotta have it. I need it' and 'Ends' is about the dark side of it, what happens if you get too much of it." Other highlights include the slammin' spirituality of 'Praise The Lord' and a Roy Ayres-flavored groove called 'Today.'
"The f***ed up thing about blowing up with a band is that you can only do it once," Everlast reflects. "Even if you stay huge forever, you only go through that process once - and I'm looking for that feeling again. You know, that thing that puts butterflies in your gut before you go onstage. It got to the point with House Of Pain where it was a machine.
Get on stage. Do the show. Get off. Go to the hotel. It was too routine. The only reason I was going on the road was to make money. Once I stopped getting butterflies, that's when I knew things where going to get boring. I just got to a point where I wasn't having much fun and I needed to quit." These House Of Pain tours were incredibly influential, through which Rage Against The Machine and Korn first came to national attention.
"I can't wait to make another record," Everlast offers. "I'm just finding a style now. Everything that I thought was limited before weren't limitations, they were just fears. I'm not scared to try shit or act like a fool. That's what this record is about, shedding any fears. People are either going to love this record or think I've lost my mind. Either one of those is okay with me."
"This time I wanted to do that scary thing - that if you don't do it you're gonna be like, 'Damn, I wonder what would've happened if I tried that.' I got sick of hearing 'rapper Everlast.' You never hear the word 'musician' and I thought that was bugged out because a lot of hip hop cats are true musicians. To me, what I'm doing is no different than hip hop. I hate to sound too artsy-fartsy about it, but there's emotion on this record. People who like what I've done and know what I've been about in this game will dig it."
Everlast explains his alter-ego as represented in the album title: "In rap music, all these guys have aliases. 'So And So a.k.a. This Is That.' Half the guys in the rap game wanna be Italian mafiosos and that struck me as funny. If I had an alias, what would it be? I was trying to be really outrageous, and 'Whitey Ford' is real peckerwood. It evokes an imagery right away. I love the bluntness of it. Whitey Ford Sings The Blues is code for 'Everlast is bugging the f*** out.'"