A few months before quick-melting Florida conehead Vanilla Ice arrived on the scene, Los Angeles’ Erik Schrody made a spirited if ineffectual longplaying debut as self-styled boxer/rapper Everlast on Forever Everlasting. Produced under the auspices of Ice-T’s Rhyme Syndicate, the album did nothing but raise some narrow-minded eyebrows, and Everlast left the ring early, overeager but under-prepared. He had the sneer down pat and chattered impressively in doubletime (“Syndicate Soldier”) — all he needed was topics that might transcend old school rap’s standard self-hype. Despite the narrow focus, a couple of tracks marked Everlast as a comer: “Fuck Everyone,” which carries good-natured belligerence to new artistic heights, and the inspired “I Got the Knack,” a rip-roaring gem that samples “My Sharona.”
The story would have ended there if not for his inspired embrace of a different sort of ethnic profiteering and a hookup with producer DJ Muggs of Cypress Hill. Joined by rapper Danny Boy (O’Connor) and producer DJ Lethal, Everlast opened House of Pain as the first Gaelic hip-hop group, draping it carelessly in Irish imagery more as a marketing scheme than a cultural identity. A three-leafed logo, orange and green colors, topical references (scattered through tracks like “Shamrocks and Shenanigans” and “Top of the Morning to Ya”), a couple of lines of “Danny Boy” and a vocal dedication to pub life are hardly the alpha-omega of Irish reality; the crude band’s careful avoidance of politics kept it that way.
Actually, it wouldn’t matter if the flag flying on the cover of House of Pain were Venusian; the only track that matters is “Jump Around,” a great, boisterous party single produced by Muggs with an irritating whistle for a hook and an irresistible chorus. The rest of the album is fine for what it is — medium-weight old-school-quoting boasts over simple, woozy beats — but nothing more. Same as It Ever Was, which adds “On Point” (a number that mentions Schrody’s ’93 gun bust) to the repertoire, maintains House of Pain’s functional mediocrity without significantly falling off or wising up.
A couple of years after House of Pain ended, Everlast reinvented himself as an acoustic singer-songwriter with Whitey Ford Sings the Blues and returned himself to the charts.