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Born Erik Francis Schrody, August 18, 1969, Valley Stream, New York, EVERLAST initially emerged as a member of the Rhyme Syndicate posse. Acting as executive producer, the iconic ICE-T rapper/hip hopper dispatched his Caucasian protégé’s first singles, `Syndication’ and `Never Missin’ A Beat’ in 1988 and 1989 respectively, prior to his inaugural album, FOREVER EVERLASTING (1990) {*4}; that followed on from `I Got The Knack’. Street-smart and sampling the usual array of JAMES BROWN, GEORGE CLINTON, ZAPP and other R&B/soul stars, there was nothing defining this set as different, though maybe points were scored via `Speak No Evil’ (featuring Kool Nick), `Fuck Everyone’ and `The Rhythm’ (featuring Donald D, Diva Logic, Patrick Stewart and ICE-T himself).
EVERLAST’s Irish-American roots became ever so apparent when he duly founded the L.A.-based HOUSE OF PAIN, alongside long-time compadre Danny Boy O’Connor and Latvian immigrant DJ Lethal. White boy MC/rapper VANILLA ICE had taken extreme flak for his “Ice Ice Baby” chart-topper, so there was indeed initial concern for a combo stepping out among the hardcore hip hop playas. 1992’s `Jump Around’ put paid to any misgivings when it raced into the Top 3, and carved out something of a cult following for the trio. Several hits and misses pursued each of three albums (“House Of Pain”, “Same As It Ever Was” and 1996’s “Truth Crushed To Earth Shall Rise Again”), but it was clear each member had their own agenda and ambitions.
When DJ Lethal teamed up with LIMP BIZKIT, rap-rocker EVERLAST (now a Muslim) re-invented himself as a hip-hop minstrel and turned out his best work in years (if not ever!) with the Top 10 set, WHITEY FORD SINGS THE BLUES (1998) {*8}. The project had nearly stalled indefinitely when the vocalist suffered a massive cardiac arrest; however this congenital defect was improved greatly after a heart bypass and the insertion of an artificial valve implant. The album contained at least two classic numbers; the Top 20 hit `What It’s Like’ and the man’s cautionary tale of greed, `Ends’. An acoustic folk-rock bent had lent itself to territory normally filled by NEIL YOUNG or DYLAN, but with his tendency to preach GIL SCOTT-HERON style (e.g. `The Latter’ and `Money (Dollar Bill)’), EVERLAST was finding his own niche. One of several guest singers on SANTANA’s comeback set, “Supernatural”, EVERLAST contributed `Put Your Lights On’, a track that won them both a Grammy.
EAT AT WHITEY’S (2000) {*7} continued in a similar vein of charismatic, bohemian folk-hop; the rap survivor getting by just fine – and getting into the Top 20 – with a little help from his friends. No bad thing when they happen to be as famous and as talented as CARLOS SANTANA and WARREN HAYNES (on respective tracks `Babylon Feeling’ and `Mercy On My Soul’), although EVERLAST sounded most convincing performing on his proverbial tod. The B-Real duet, `Deadly Assassin’, plus the back-to-back `Black Jesus’, `I Can’t Move’ and `Black Coffee’, were cool and catchy; as was the C-LO-enhanced `We’re All Gonna Do’.
Deserving of a break but losing chart impetus and momentum in the process, EVERLAST was back on track with the partly cathartic, conscience-surfing and countrified WHITE TRASH BEAUTIFUL (2004) {*6}. Despite probable warnings from usual posse producer Dante Ross (and Island’s Def Jam), the former rapper’s hip hop tropes blended within his acoustic guitar-playing troubadour affectations. Erik’s TOM WAITS-esque husk was evident on `Broken’, a broody ballad that was miles from the SNOOP DOGG-esque `Soul Music’, whilst `Lonely Road’ was one of several to portray his Nashville nuance.
EVERLAST duly postponed solo activities to work with his buddy Danny Boy’s side-project, LA COKA NOSTRA. A collective fronted by rappers Ill Bill and Slaine (and featuring another ex-HOUSE OF PAIN member DJ Lethal), their inaugural set, “A Brand You Can Trust”, was finally dispatched in 2009, having been almost polished off in ’07.
Allowed breathing space to sort out his fifth solo set, LOVE, WAR AND THE GHOST OF WHITEY FORD (2008) {*6}, most fans considered the Top 100 record as a resounding success. A rusty cover of JOHNNY CASH’s opal, `Folsom Prison Blues’ (interpolated with “Jump Around” snippets), was mooted as the roots rapper’s spawned single, but the hour-long set had 16 other pieces of silver to pick from. Producer DJ Muggs worked well with the bluesy, bourbon-soaked set of textured acoustics; check out `Stone In My Hand’, `Die In Yer Arms’, `Weakness’ and `Letters Home From The Garden Of Stone’.
Consequently bailing from LA COKA NOSTRA due to his new daughter’s cystic fibrosis, EVERLAST set up his own Martyr Inc. imprint to unfetter his sixth set, the Top 50-performing SONGS OF THE UNGRATEFUL LIVING (2011) {*6}. Erik’s present-day recession woes concerned the repo man, health-care and a mounting mortgage debt, but in contemporary blues tracks `I Get By’, `My House’, `Friday The 13th’, `The Rain’ et al, the former rapper was keeping the proverbial wolves of Wall Street from the door; the set was anchored by a poignant cover of SAM COOKE’s `A Change Is Gonna Come’.
For the stripped-bare and unplugged THE LIFE ACOUSTIC (2013) {*6}, EVERLAST covered his tracks, so to speak (including `Sad Girl’ and `Black Jesus’), and concluded with a wicked un-saddled rendition of `Jump Around?’.
The entertaining Mr. EVERLAST was back in contention in 2018 for the thematic WHITEY FORD’S HOUSE OF PAIN {*5}; possibly his swan song. As the title suggested, an album mindful of his past haunts; though not stepping on any toes, it collected the talents of Maiya Sykes (backing vocals), FISHBONE’s Philip Fisher (drums), Corey Cofield (bass) and Artyom Manukyan (cello), though it only charted in the digital, the independent and the folk lists. Despite the appearance of ALOE BLACC on `Slow Your Roll’ and Slug (of Atmosphere) on `Oooohh (I Don’t Need You)’ – and producers Divine Styler, Bryan Velasco and Evidence – the set received mixed reviews.
© MC Strong/MCS 2000-2004/GRD // rev-up MCS Nov2019

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