October 26, 2000

At the Crossroads

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The main problem with most rap-rock outfits, as I see it, is that they tend to be rockers trying to rap. Look at Kid Rock or Limp Bizkit: do they strike you as being authentic rappers? No, they’re white-boy pimp wannabes, and that’s why they’re so laughable. And that’s a shame, because the idea behind a rap-rock combination seems like a good one — in theory, at least. That’s why it’s gratifying to see that guys like Erik “Everlast” Schrody can get it right.

As far as rap credibility goes, Everlast certainly warrants a good deal more respect than, say, Fred Durst. A key member of the rap collective House Of Pain in the ’80s, Everlast reinvented himself in 1998 with the superb solo album Whitey Ford Sings The Blues, an album best-known for its two folk-blues ballads, “Ends” and “What It’s Like.”

On his latest, though, Everlast has actually toned down the rap a bit, concentrating more on acoustic guitars and his distinctive down-home growl. After the brief but fun old skool opener “Whitey,” Everlast churns out four bluesy numbers in a row, culminating in the driving “Babylon Feeling,” featuring Santana on guitar.

The bass-heavy rap of “Deadly Assassins,” featuring B-Real of Cypress Hill, ends the album’s first half and provides a hint of the more varied second half. A cover of Slick Rick’s old-school classic “Children’s Story” is the best of the album’s many collaborations, as human beatbox Rahzel carries the track.

Lyrically, most of these songs concentrate on the themes of love, redemption, and God that Everlast has focused on since he suffered a near-fatal heart attack just after completing his last album. Granted, most of the love he’s groaning about here is unrequited, and “Children’s Story” and “Graves To Dig” paint particularly grim pictures of the urban plight, so this is far from a more optimistic Everlast we’re seeing.

But it’s this very pessimism that gives him the best reason to reform. On “We’re All Gonna Die,” Everlast declares, “Baby don’t cry/ Praise the most high/ Tell you no lie/ We’re all gonna die.” The countryish ramble “Mercy On My Soul,” which includes Southern-fried slide guitar by Gov’t Mule’s Warren Haynes, is Everlast’s soulful tribute to his newfound Lord’s forgiving ways.

Only a few tracks fall short here. The five-minute “One and the Same” is one of the few examples of Everlast overextending himself, as he grinds through a by-the-numbers blues jam. It’s the only track that doesn’t come off as authentic.

Otherwise, every track is worthwhile, and the album shows impressive creative advancement by Everlast. Although Whitey Ford Sings The Blues was a slightly better album overall — as well as being more rap-based — Eat At Whitey’s is a worthy effort from a talented musician. You’ll find yourself returning to this diner frequently; despite the somewhat greasy-looking chef, the food is definitely fine cuisine.

Archived article by Ed Howard