Everlast has shed more skins over the years than a rattlesnake and now he has done it again with The Life Acoustic.
He began his career as lead rapper for the House of Pain, the Irish American rap group that produced "Jump Around."
While he has kept up the hardened street cred with the occasional return to rap or House of Pain reunion, Everlast in recent years has been known for his bottomless baritone that drips with soul.
He has had a string of successful albums that mix rock with hip hop beats (download his fantastic cover of Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" and you'll see what I mean).
With The Life Acoustic, the artist formerly known as Erik Francis Schrody has re-imagined some tunes from his back catalogue to make them safe for consumption at your nearest coffee house.
For the most part, this works like a charm. The cocksure MC that used words as bullets on "Children's Story" back in 2000's Eat at Whitey's has been replaced by an urban poet 13 years later.
The turntable swishes of the original have been replaced by blues chords on a piano, and Everlast's grizzled voice ensures he "keeps it real" in this new rendition.
"They call me white center/black martyr/live wire/firestarter/jungle brother/redneck cracker/sex junkie looking for a dealer," he sings on "Black Jesus."
The lyric describes his artistry perfectly. Everlast has gone from inspiring white rappers like Eminem to penning theme songs for television shows (Saving Grace), playing both sides of street cred and industry cred without a hint of irony or in-authenticity. On The Life Acoustic, he does it again.
There is one bum note on the disc. He puts a question mark at the end of "Jump Around" on the track listing, and with good reason. The song is a pointless shuffle that is so bad that I had to immediately jump around to the original House of Pain version to cleanse my eardrum.
Other than that, The Life Acoustic is a life worth hearing. Check it out on Everlast's website at http://www.martyr-inc.com.
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