As a teenager, Everlast was a graf writer. He made a couple tapes with his buddies, and the next thing he knew he was part of Ice-T's Rhyme Syndicate crew. He, Danny Boy and DJ Lethal formed House of Pain, and the DJ Muggs'-produced “Jump Around” prompted a label bidding war and propelled House of Pain into hip-hop history.
But Everlast was not a fad. “I've made a living making music for 20-some odd years now,” he says, surrounded by graffiti in his Studio City studio. “Not a lot of people can say that.” But though his new album is drenched in whiskey and blues, he asserts that he's still as hip-hop as ever. To prove it, he told us about the top five West Coast rap albums that influenced him.
5. Ice Cube
“[Classic] even though he went to New York to do that one. And a couple of Ice Cube's albums could make this list. Death Certificate could easily be on here.”
4. Cypress Hill
“Their first album changed the game and saved hip hop at a time when it was really boring. There were a couple of times in hip hop that there was a lull. Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back saved it at one point, and five, four years later it went through another lull, and Cypress Hill stepped up. Anybody that is a fan of hip-hop music tells you the first time they heard that they didn't get chills? I don't know what's wrong with 'em.”
“This was probably the first one as far as what influenced me. I was already doin' it when he first came out and I remember I liked that one a lot. I knew 'Pac. Real sweet dude. I wasn't around for a lot of that craziness at the end. I was kinda there in the middle of his career. He lived right down the block from me here in the Valley.
I don't think anything about dude was fake. I think, toward the end, he was playing up–like the whole catch-22 Hunter S. Thompson had, where he had to live up to his drugged-out party animal [reputation]. Tupac had built this image that was larger-than-life, Black Panther, thugged-out, street hero character that he had to live up to, and it greatly added to the time and place he passed on. I believe firmly you can call shit into existence. I don't mean it in a spooky, devilish way, but it's just like people believe in the philosophy of positive visualization.”
1. Eazy-E (tie)
“It was the same era as N.W.A.–Ice Cube wrote it, Dr. Dre produced it. 'Eazy Duz It' is on that record, 'Radio' is on that record. A lot of classic hits.”
1. Ice -T (tie)
“I was around when that was being made. I watched, learned a lot. This would probably be on there even more than 'Pac, cause [Tupac and I] were peers. Wild to think about some of the places I've been and things I've seen in L.A. Doing shit in World on Wheels in Mid-City and Skateland in Compton. This was an accident. I'm here as a white kid opening up for the likes of Big Daddy Kane and Slick Rick and N.W.A. cause I'm down with Ice-T. I was just coming in the game then. I opened for them. They were larger than life.”