By Veronica Dudo
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Grammy Award-winning rapper and songwriter Everlast performed over the weekend at the House of Blues in the Showboat Casino. The musician rocked the Backstage Party Pit with his songs during the free concert in Atlantic City.
Everlast, also known as “Whitey Ford,” collaborated with DJ Lethal and Danny Boy in the 1990s, forming the rap group House of Pain. The trio released their multi-platinum debut album, which included the mega hit “Jump Around.”
Later, Everlast worked with other artists, like Santana. The two won a Grammy for the track, “Put Your Lights On”. Everlast also wrote a song for Snoop Dogg and joined the group La Coka Nostra. Recently, he released a new album, “Songs of the Ungrateful Living.”
Before his concert in the resort, the musician spoke candidly about his life, his music career and his dreams for the future.
To listen to the full interview, click below…
Welcome to Atlantic City.
You’ve played here before–any fun memories?
I think the last time it was with the House of Pain and La Coka Nostra. Usually around St. Paddy’s Day House of Pain will get together—milk the Irish things a little bit.
Your new album, “Songs of the Ungrateful Living,” is the first album you took the lead role in producing. What was that process like?
It wasn’t that hard because I’ve had a lot of producers that worked with me, like my buddy Dante Ross produced three albums with me, and then last album he worked a little bit on me, and then I worked with a buddy of mine named Keefus Ciancia. And these are all dudes with different styles, but the one thing they all have in common is the thing you need. The reason I never really took the lead before is that I never really felt strongly about if you don’t have somebody there while you’re making the record that’ll challenge you—even sometimes just to get a rise out of you—like, that’s not good. As long as they’re honest…but I found that over the years by working with these kinds of cats, that I’ve become that guy on myself.
So, a proud moment for you in your career?
Yeah, kind of like I’ve said–I’ve been doing it so long, if I couldn’t produce my own record, it’d be kind of sad, you know. What I mean is it’d be sad if I couldn’t; it’s just I’ve always felt so strong about that being challenged part, that I was always wondering if I could do that to myself. Would I be able to push myself and make myself? Because I’m also kind of a procrastinator and occasionally lazy, so the two don’t always work, but we made it happen.
The single “I Get By” tells the story of people struggling economically. What made you decide to write about that issue?
A lot of my music is about similar things, but that particular song, a buddy of mine, DJ Z-Trip–we were sitting around and he was like, ‘I got an idea for a song “I Get By”,’ and I’m a big fan of a guy, Talib Kweli, and he had just had a big song the year before, and it was a real positive, uplifting song called “I Get By.” I was like man, ‘Talib Kweli just did that,’ and he was like, ‘No, not that kind of get by—the barely scraping by, getting by,’ and I was like, ‘That’s an interesting take on that.’ And it just kind of lived on in my head for a while, and then one day I just put together the track, and it started…so Z-Trip deserves a little credit for that.
What do you draw on for inspiration when writing your songs?
It could be anything, you know. It could be seeing somebody on the street, it could be something I see on the news, it could just be something in my own life. I come from the blue-collared working class folk: live better, work union, all that good stuff, and I just see that eroding and disappearing in our country. And I’ve truly witnessed our country go from America the Beautiful and America the Great to America Inc. It’s just kind of a corporate mentality about everything, not just corporations—I expect corporations to be psychopathic; that’s their job. It just seems like that has transferred into everything. That, combined with people wanting and feeling they have earned things they haven’t earned because of reality TV. Nobody wants to be in the audience anymore; everybody wants to be on stage. It’s like, some of ya’ll don’t belong on stage; in fact, most of ya’ll don’t belong on stage. So it’s kind of an eerie Warhol-esque thing; his prediction is kind of literally in front of our eyes. I try to find pain and anger and hurt and write about it, and inject just a tiny bit of hope into it. I think that’s reality.
A few years back, you had a health scare. Can you talk about how that impacted your life?
I was born with a defective heart valve. It was never really a problem until I turned 28 and it tore– probably because I was smoking and drinking and living like a maniac. My doctors always told me, ‘When you’re 50, this should be a problem,’ but it became a problem when I was 28, and I just had to have surgery and have this titanium heart valve. And everything has been pretty good since.
What are some upcoming projects for you?
I’m still working on this album, I’m about to shoot a little film project with a buddy of mine, Estevan Oriol. We’re going to shoot a mini kind of movie/documentary/music video, and then my buddies La Coka Nostra–we’re all trying to get a record together right now. For me, it’s a little overwhelming, but that’s pretty much it—just keep working. I want to produce some other groups; I’m actually trying to get into songwriting for other people. I’ve never really tried to do that; I’ve had a lot of people inquire. I’ve done it a few times. I wrote Snoop a song, of course I wrote Santana a song, but I performed that, so it’s still, like, “mine.” But I actually want to write songs and hear another artist singing them, and maybe even on the radio—that would be kind of cool.
You’ve worked in all genres of music, and you’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. Looking back, what do you think your message has been through your music?
My message has just been follow your heart; keep it as real as you can. I have a kid now, and I’m older—lately, it’s been more about compassion for other people. I’ve been a pretty selfish dude; not in such a negative way, but when you’re fortunate and you’ve had some of the success I’ve had, a lot of people come and cater to you. I still have a hard time checking in onto a plane without somebody there doing it for me, so I try to understand other people more and put myself in their shoes, because I’m a pretty lucky dude.
BUZZ @ THE BEACH
For the January 27th weekend, Caesars Casino will present the Rascal Flatts’ “Thaw Out 2012” tour, with special guests Sara Evans and Hunter Hayes, at historic Boardwalk Hall on Saturday. The American Hockey League will also bring the 2012 AHL All-Star Classic to Boardwalk Hall on Sunday. Jaleel White, who portrayed Steve Urkel on the television series “Family Matters,” will host the party at The Pool After Dark inside Harrah’s Resort, while Michal Bolton and Sylvia Browne both have shows in the concert venue at Harrah’s. Snooki is scheduled to host an after party at Night Fever inside Resorts Casino, while Colin Quinn performs at the Borgata and Panos Kiamos has a concert at the Trump Taj Mahal.