Hip-hop has, in one way or another, fueled most of the good pop music made over the last several years--including some of the best roots rock, from Bruce Springsteen's breakbeat-driven single "Streets of Philadelphia" to the two solo albums by former House of Pain rapper Erik Schrody, aka Everlast. On his 1998 debut, Whitey Ford Sings the Blues, Schrody sounded something like John Mellencamp or Bob Seger might have if they'd grown up on Run-DMC instead of Otis Redding, rapping and rasping over a blend of bluesy acoustic strumming, slow and midtempo rhythms that bumped if you paid attention, and dreamy, cinematic string arrangements that echo the alien/alienated violins of RZA's Wu-Tang productions. Eat at Whitey's (Tommy Boy), released this past fall, tightens up the formula, eliminating the excess (no skits this time) and playing up his everyman persona as he unglamorously dissects heartbreak ("Black Coffee"), mortality ("One and the Same"), and the criminal life (a cover of Slick Rick's "Children's Story"). Like Mellencamp or Seger, Everlast is a dime-store moralist who spins cautionary tales with a heavy hand: "Heaven and hell, boy, are one and the same / And we all meet somewhere in the middle," goes the moral of "One and the Same." But even at his most leaden, he's a hell of a lot more thoughtful than most of his rock-rap peers. Thursday, January 25, 9 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn; 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Christian Lantry.