Everlast is a singer-songwriter who moves fluidly between hip-hop, rock and country. Born in 1969 in Long Island, New York, Everlast (whose real name is Erik Schrody) started off as a protégé of Los Angeles hip-hop icon Ice-T. His career has evolved from being the frontman of a celebrated but short-lived rap group of the early ‘90s to a confessional solo artist who feels as comfortable rapping as he does covering a Johnny Cash
An Early Solo Outing:
After gaining street cred from Ice-T’s approval of his rhyming skills, Everlast released his first solo album, Forever Everlasting, in 1990. Though the album wasn’t a success, Forever Everlasting did establish certain elements of Everlast’s appeal: a gritty flow, a likeable presence, and a willingness to speak from the heart about personal subject matter. Forever Everlasting didn’t wow audiences, but it laid the foundation for the rapper’s next project.
House of Pain:
Shortly after cutting Forever Everlasting, Everlast teamed up with Danny Boy and DJ Lethal to form the hip-hop group House of Pain. Over the course of three albums, House of Pain celebrated Everlast and Danny Boy’s Irish heritage through hard beats and party anthems. The group’s biggest smash was “Jump Around” from 1992, and both the single and the self-titled album that contained it went platinum. House of Pain’s last album, Truth Crushed to Earth Shall Rise Again, came out in 1996. Everlast left the band the day Truth was released.
Becoming Whitey Ford:
With House of Pain behind him, Everlast decided to work on another solo record, although its sound would be more varied than the rap-centric Forever Everlasting
. Adopting a persona he dubbed Whitey Ford, Everlast wrote self-critical songs that looked candidly at the failures in his life. The subsequent album, 1998’s double-platinum Whitey Ford Sings the Blues
, mixed hip-hop, country, blues and rock, establishing the crossover strategy similar white rappers like Kid Rock
would attempt in the following years. Everlast demonstrated he could be a soulful, engaging singer, particularly on the hit single “What It’s Like.”
Moving Further Away From Hip-Hop:
Spurred on by the ascension of “What It’s Like” on the pop charts, Whitey Ford Sings the Blues became a fluke smash, perhaps guaranteeing that the follow-up would seem like a disappointment. Indeed, 2000’s Eat at Whitey’s felt like a less-inspired sequel to Blues, again merging different styles into a pleasing, coherent whole. It would be four years until Everlast released another record. White Trash Beautiful moved further away from rap as the singer-songwriter pursued country and blues.
Singing About Love and War in 2008:
In 2008, Everlast returned with Love, War, and the Ghost of Whitey Ford
. The album, released through Everlast’s own label, found the one-time rapper concentrating on acoustic ballads, gospel-inflected pop and hard rock. However, the album did feature a hip-hop version of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues.”
Key Everlast Songs:
“What It’s Like”
“This Kind of Lonely”
Forever Everlasting (1990)
Whitey Ford Sings the Blues (1998)
Eat at Whitey’s (2000)
White Trash Beautiful (2004)
Love, War, and the Ghost of Whitey Ford (2008)
On the success of “What It’s Like.”
“I think it’s just one of those things where everyone ... has been through these things and it’s nice to not feel like you’re alone. It’s almost like you can celebrate your heartaches and celebrate your shortcomings ... It’s not a party song. It’s a bit of a hard pill to swallow, but it tastes good.” (Yahoo! Music, April 28, 1999)
On the impact he wants his music to have on people.
“I always tell people art is not meant to be friendly all the time. Indifference, to me, is my enemy. I would rather you hate my music, or love it, than just say ‘oh, it’s OK, whatever,’ like it’s elevator background music. That would be the worst thing in the world to me.” (RapReviews.com, September 2008)
- During the making of Whitey Ford Sings the Blues, Everlast suffered a serious heart attack that was due to a preexisting health condition.
- Whitey Ford was also the name of a New York Yankee pitcher who played baseball during the 1950s and ’60s.
- Everlast has an art collection that includes graffiti and fine art.
- He will be voting for Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election.
- Supposedly, when Ice-T heard Everlast’s demos, he was so impressed that it came as a surprise to find out that the young rapper was white.
- Everlast plays the racist cop O’Maley in Prince Paul’s 1999 concept album, A Prince Among Thieves.