He Lays His Hat Is His Home: Chillin With EVERLAST
by Debbie Seagle
Trying to figure out a label or a genre
to put on Everlast is a task I have not succeeded in, so I’m going
to need a little help from you all in the cyber music world. I was
first asked to check in with the irrepressible “Whitey Ford” after he won
Album of the Year” in the Best of Y2K wind up here at Rocknworld.
Okay, I thought, when I received his latest CD “Eat At Whitey’s,”
will I like this? For better of worse, I have tried the latest crop
of white boy rappers and can usually get into the beat, but as soon as
they get to the “bitch-this and ho-that” part of the song, I get my female
ire up, decide I’d rather break my foot off in their ass, and turn the
stuff off. So the first question I asked myself is, are all rappers
created equal? After doing my homework on Erik Schrody (a.k.a. Everlast),
I found out that the answer was a definite NO.
To understand the Everlast of today,
it is necessary to know the rounds the man has fought to earn him the title
of Grammy winner, rapper, musician, writer and survivor. His story
reads like a Hollywood novel that is filled with life and death drama,
determination, faith and triumph. He is respected by the many factions
of the music world that consider him their peer; rappers, blues men, hip-hoppers
and rockers. To call him any one of these things without the others
would be to sell him short.
was born on Long Island, NY but has lived most of his life in the San Fernando
Valley of Southern California. There he began showing his artistic
side as a graffiti artist and learned elementary street rap from friends.
In the late 80s, with an uncanny knack for rhyming, he laid down a few
tracks that came to the attention of rap king pin Ice-T. He liked
what he heard and Everlast became one of the few white members of
the Rhyme Syndicate posse. Round one found him releasing his first
solo project; an album called “Forever Everlasting,” in 1990.
It was filled with characteristic expletives, violence and gratuitous descriptions
of the female anatomy. This early incarnation of the Everlast
we know today prompted him to remark, “I thank God every day that record
flopped. I could have been Vanilla Ice, dude. Then it really
would’ve been over.” But, as I said, this was only the beginning.
Many gut wrenching changes were to take place in Schrody’s life that shaped
the “Eclectic” artist he is today.
Round two finds our man in the black satin
trunks leaving his label and joining with friends Danny Boy (Danny O’Connor)
and DJ Lethal (Leor Dimant) to found the Irish Hip Hop group House of Pain.
In 1992 their self titled debut went platinum, due in part to the huge
success of their #3 single, “Jump Around.” A second album,
“Same As It Ever Was,” was released in 1994 and went gold.
On the release date of the group’s third album, “Truth Crushed To Earth
Shall Rise Again,” Everlast stunned the rap/hip-hop world by
quitting the group and bowing out of the lime light for several years.
He didn’t know what he was going to do with his life, but knew he had to
next round was the worst for Everlast. Dwindling funds and
broken romances had him against the mat, but in these blue times he found
his inspiration again and his confidence to write. Born a good Irish
Catholic boy, he converted to Islam in 1997 and donning the character of
“Whitey Ford,” he chronicled his struggles in such songs as “The Letter”
and “Seven Years.” Now came the true test of Everlast’s
metal. On the last day of recording “Whitey Ford Sings The Blues”
he collapsed to the floor of the recording studio and was rush to the hospital,
hanging on to life by a thread. This near fatal experience was due
to a torn aorta, the result of a heart defect he never knew he had.
Not down for the count, Schrody earned
his “Everlast” moniker by springing back immediately to promote
the album. “As soon as I was done making the record, I was out
there supporting it,” Erik recalls. “That was like my rehab.
It kept my mind off all the drama and just allowed my body to start getting
better.” His body wasn’t the only thing getting better.
His efforts on “Whitey Ford Sings The Blues” were rewarded with
a Grammy nomination for the single “What Its Like” and his collaboration
with rock legend Carlos Santana on “Put Your Lights On,” a song
which he wrote and performed, garnered him the gold statuette and the respect
he had earned.
Photos by Debbie Seagle. Copyright 2000 Groove
Quest Productions. May not be used without permission all rights reserved.