In a recent interview with Billboard.com, Everlast was quoted as saying “I would rather if people love or hate my music. The only thing I don’t want is indifference. If you are not stirring shit up, then what the hell are you doing?” At that point, I’d listened to his new album, Songs of the Ungrateful Living, a couple times and to be honest, I was kind of indifferent.
The interviewer also asked him if he felt the new album was more “hip-hop” this time around and I had to scratch my head on what the ‘F’ that meant. Everlast is an MC who has always known how to spit on the mic and carry a swagger no matter what the song sounded like. Let’s move away from my pet peeve of interviewers asking dumb questions though and back to my considerations regarding the new album.
Maybe I’m biased by the last album because I worked it and have a certain degree of loyalty to it, if not necessarily, the man. Whereas this album seems ahead of schedule (it’s usually a four-year cycle between his albums), The Ghost of Whitey Ford seemed like a welcome and refreshing musical turn for the artist. Ungrateful Living lacks musical bite. Take, for example, the track “Everyone,” off of Ghost – that track featured horns, pregnant bluesy bass, and back-up singers. You don’t get that on this album. You get “bumpa-bumpa-bah, buh, bumpa-bumpa-bah…” and, yes, Everlast rails on about how he doesn’t trust the government and how the American Dream is dead. That’s the leadoff single “I Get By”. I’m sure it will soon become a theme song for several ‘occupissed’s.’<– oh, no you didn’t, KBOX! Yeah…I did. I made a word.
It’s not all sour grapes. There are some really decent tracks, despite some musical ineptitude here. “Little Miss America,” amidst the flecks of banjo and rehashed guitar that sounds exactly like “Lonely Road”, is still a great storytelling song with a soaring, radio-friendly chorus you can’t help but bop your head to. Similarly, tracks “Long Road” and “The Rain” tell decent stories with decent, if unoriginal beats and melodies. He’s like the hip-hop version of Bruce Springsteen, but this just isn’t his Born in the USA. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to have held a séance for Whitey Ford. Haunting up some creative inspiration might have worked better than “the trees” and a bottle of Jameson that fueled this one.
Ultimately, it’s fine for the casual listen, but I’m not clearing a ton of space on the iPod for it…
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