Damn Right Everlast's Got The Blues

Acoustic rapper coming back after three-year absence.

No, it's not a remix of the Christina Aguilera song. "White Trash Beautiful" is the likely first single from Everlast's long-awaited new album. And, judging by a few lines the bluesy rapper crooned in his cracked-pepper voice over the phone, it's the latest chapter in the gritty book of stories that made the former House of Pain leader a star five years ago.

"White trash beautiful/ Trailer park queen/ She slings hash at the diner from 11 to 5," he sang a cappella. "She married a boy from school/ Thought he was oh so cool/ But all he can do for money is drive/ Out late haulin' freight on Interstate 5/ Tryin' to see home before his baby arrive/ White trash beautiful/ Somethin' you should know/ My heart belongs to you."

Like his breakthrough 1998 hit "What It's Like" from Whitey Ford Sings the Blues, Everlast said "White Trash Beautiful" is a blues-inspired story about the struggles of everyday people. He should know, because Everlast said he's one of those people (see "Where The Heck Has Everlast Been?"). The hard times he's endured since the disappointing sales of 2000's Eat At Whitey's informed the lonely feel of his fourth solo album, tentatively titled White Trash Beautiful and due in early 2004, according to a spokesperson for his new label, Island/Def Jam.

"I was surprised at how long it took me to get a new record deal," said Everlast, who was formerly signed to Tommy Boy Records but found himself in limbo when the label sold its catalog to Warner Bros. last year. He managed to record most of the album on his own dime in New York, his home studio and Cypress Hill's DJ Muggs' Los Angeles studio before he signed the new deal last month.

"I'm adding more influences as I continue along my path. It's that same idea of taking hip-hop and blues, but this record is more country influenced — but it's not country music by any means. I was listening to old Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and, God rest his soul, Johnny Cash, for inspiration as far as the subject matter."

He may not be tapping into Bubba Sparxxx's hick-hop vibe, but Everlast said he feels the country influence came in the subject matter, which deals with many different shades of loneliness. He referred to "Lonely Road" as a "self-explanatory" song about being away from home, and described "This Kind of Lonely" as probably the "most country" song on the album. "It is a lonely record. I drew on some relationships that didn't work out for the songs," he said, lamenting the difficulty of holding together a relationship when half your life is spent on a tour bus. "But even though I think it's lonely and sad, there's hope in it in a corny way."

The album doesn't have many of the overt blues samples he's employed in the past, but Everlast copped to "borrowing" a few guitar licks here and there in what he called "a different kind of sampling." And even though he's still strumming an acoustic guitar, he hasn't forgotten the hardcore, "knucklehead" hip-hop fans who've been with him since he debuted as part of Ice-T's posse nearly 15 years ago. After no luck tracking down ex-Geto Boys member Scarface, Everlast is hoping to grab Talib Kweli to rap on the Alchemist-produced "All Wrong." "I was trying to get both of them, but Scarface is impossible to find," he said. "He so deep underground, underground don't know where he is."

Another rap/blues track that is expected to make the album is "Two Pieces of Drama" and an as-yet-untitled song produced by up-and-coming hip-hop producer Emil. Among the other songs expected to make the album are "Broken," a few tracks produced by his longtime partner, Dante Ross, and "Maybe," which features a string arrangement from Beck's dad, David Campbell.

Despite his storied feud with Eminem two years ago, Everlast said he's not sweating being a part of the same record company as Slim Shady. "The deal with me and Em was a personal issue," he said of the beef, which unleashed a flurry of dis tracks. "I met him and extended a greeting and he reacted in a way I took offense to. I did things rappers do. We beefed. It's over. In a weird way, had dude reached out his hand he'd probably have been talking to one of his biggest fans."