Everlast clearly believes an album’s title should let the listener know what its songs sound like. Twenty years ago, when he released an album in which he sang the blues for the first time, he titled it “Whitey Ford Sings the Blues” (drawing on his nickname). In 2013, when he assembled a collection of acoustic recordings, he dubbed it “The Life Acoustic.” For his latest set, out Friday, Sept. 7, he chose the title “Whitey Ford’s House of Pain,” indicating two pivotal periods in his career — the original hit “Whitey Ford” album, and his ‘90s hip-hop group, House of Pain, which created the classic rallying cry “Jump Around.” “On the new album, I drew on my past to use everything in my toolbox,” Everlast said of a collection that toggles between soulful singing and stark rapping. “I feel like it’s a conglomeration of my best work.”
Here, the rapper-turned-singer, 49, born Erik Francis Schrody, talks about his Long Island roots and the complications of his current life in California.
Though you now live in Woodland, California, you grew up in Valley Stream, right?
We were on Merrick Road. I have very specific memories of a drugstore there where you could get an eggcream. Even after my family moved West, I would come back to Long Island as a teenager, stay with aunts and go to the city to look at graffiti and chase down the b-boy culture.
Recently, you’ve had a low profile. Eight years passed since you released your last album of new material. Why?
I didn’t have the creative buzz. Also, there were family struggles.
I know you spent some time caring for your oldest daughter who has cystic fibrosis. How is she doing?
All things considered, she’s doing well. She’ll be good for most of the year, then have to spend a month in the hospital. It’s a lifelong thing, so it’s only going to progress. But we’ve managed to stave it off at a snail’s pace, which is the best you can do until there’s a cure. Right now, there’s a lot of hopeful stuff going on with that.
You deal with the pain of the situation on several tracks, including the opening ballad “One of Us.”
For a while after my daughter was born I was at war with God. There’s a lot of psychological stuff you deal with when you have a kid with something genetic. You have to assume some responsibility for the suffering. If you don’t have an outlet like songwriting, or therapy, that darkness can manifest itself in your everyday life.
The album references Tom Petty’s music in two places. Why?
I love Tom Petty! “The Waiting” is one of my favorite songs. He’s a cool dude.
You were one of the first rappers to sing. Now many do — often poorly. Do you ever think, “Why don’t they stay in their lane?”
I’d be the last person to tell anybody to stay in their lane. If I had done that, I’d be on “Where Are They Now?” The whole second half of my career, with singing, wouldn’t have happened.
Does the fact that your music is so broad hurt in marketing it?
I’m a genre killer, which makes it hard to explain what I do. Radio will say, "We’re not sure this fits." Well, try playing it and see if it fits! How ‘bout that?