Whitey Ford Sings the Blues
Guess what happened to House of Pain? Irish-American front man Erik Schrody is now Everlast, and is expanding past hard-hitting white rap into something that sounds like a cross between Frank Zappa, Arlo Guthrie, and Ice T (rap and metal), although “Painkillers” might be the first goth-rap song ever recorded, for all I know.
The first song, “The White Boy is Back,” is humorous, straight-ahead rap, which might lead the listener to believe that this is simply another hard rap album. From there, though, Everlast mixes in acoustic folk guitars on “Money (Dollar Bill),” which has an odd effect. I hesitate to say it’s taking rap into uncharted territory, because I know there’s plenty of experimentalist rappers, but this was like a dark Mickey Spillane novel hero planning the night from his cheap hotel room. “Today (Watch Me Shine)” is an urban folk song that’s more of a late-1990’s pop guitar song mixed with gritty vocals for a very powerful effect. “Funky Beat” is just that, with heavy emphasis on smoking the “right stuff.” And to round it out, “The Letter” demands a new category: “Lounge Rap.”
I loved the first House of Pain album for its fresh, pounding rhythms and high energy. I even went so far as to see them live (on St. Patrick’s Day, no less!), and came out of it seriously impressed. Everlast, while it’s not at the heavy, driving level of H.O.P., is original and worth a few spins. Tommy Boy, 902 Broadway, 13th Floor, New York, NY 10010