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Everlast keeps commentary at the forefront of latest album

for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

Everlast says that "there's an openness to make a record" with his rap group House of Pain, and that new ideas for his other band, the all-star La Coka Nostra, are also "floating around."

But for the time being the MC has again picked up his acoustic guitar and is focusing his energies on the folk-flavored, introspective and socially conscious music of his latest album, "Songs of the Ungrateful Living," which sounds like a companion piece to his double-platinum 1998 breakthrough "Whitey Ford Sings the Blues."

"Y'know, I just write the songs that I feel need writing," explains the New York-born Everlast (real name Erik Schrody), 42, who also won a Grammy Award i 2000 for his guest vocal on the Santana hit "Put Your LIghts On."

"I see what's going on around me and certain things inspire me and I write. I don't really put much thought into what a record means. The songs kid of tell you how they should be as they're growing."

"...Ungrateful Living" features songs that Everlast considers "obscenely personal" as well as more outward looking commentaries, some of which he says are inspired by his blue-collar, labor union background. It's very much music of its time -- particularly songs such as "I Get By," "Gone For Good," "Little Miss America" and "Moneymaker" -- and Everlast says he feels a responsibility to voice those messages.

"I've been fortunate enough to make a pretty good living for myself, but not so good that I'm out of touch with the reality of the blue-collar, eroding middle class of America," he explains. "There's not much I can do in the world. I'm a 42-year-old man. I got a family. There's no single-handed action I can take to change anything.

"But I have this voice, and I have this career where, hey, a few people pay attention to what I say. I grew up on hip-hop music in the early days, which was message-based. And I'm the product of a lot of 60s and (Bob) Dylan, those things. If I feel something and don't say it, I feel like I'm cheating myself. That's how I look at it."

Everlast and Redlight King perform at 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11, at the Hard Rock Cafe, 45 Monroe St., Detroit. Tickets are $20. Call 313-964-7625 or visit www.hardrock.com.

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