I hope you’re all enjoying your holiday season! This will be my final post for 2022, which is crazy to think we’re about to step into 2023. Time is truly, illmatic. Happy New Year!
After making his introduction to the world as the black suit sporting, white sneaker wearing, Syndicate Posse rollin’ emcee, Everlast would do some soul searching after his solo debut album (Forever Everlasting) flopped, both critically and commercially. He would re-emerge in 1992 with DJ Lethal, his sidekick, Danny Boy, and his Larry Bird jersey, as the three would form the proud Irish hip-hop group, House Of Pain. Thanks largely (you could argue, entirely) to their smash hit debut single, “Jump Around,” HOP’s self-titled debut album would earn the trio a platinum plaque. They would follow-up their debut album in 1994 with, Same As It Ever Was, and without a single even remotely as big as “Jump Around,” the album would still reach gold status. HOP would return in ’96 with their third release, the lengthy titled, Truth Crushed To Earth Shall Rise Again.
The album title (which is mistakenly written repeatedly across the album cover as “Truth Crushed To Earth Will Rise Again”) was taken from a line from a poem from the Massachusetts born Romantic era poet and journalist, William Cullen Bryant, titled, “The Battle-Field.” On their first two go rounds, DJ Lethal and the architect of Cypress Hill’s blunted sound, DJ Muggs, would be responsible for most of the production. But after HOP and Cypress Hill’s fallout, Muggs would have nothing to do with Truth, leaving Everlast and Lethal to pick up the production pieces. Truth would also find HOP adding a little pigmentation to the crew, as there’s a picture of two brothers in the liners notes with a caption that reads: “Featuring the original scheme team, DIVINE STYLER and COCKNI O’DIRE,” who were also once a part of Ice-T’s Syndicate Posse.
I’m not sure if it was Muggs’ absence, the presence of The Original Scheme Team, the fans growing tired of Everlast and ‘em’s Irish shenanigans or a combination of all of the above, but Truth would be HOP’s first album to not receive RIAA certification. Truth would ultimately, crush House Of Pain to the earth and collectively, they would never rise again.
I’ve had Truth in the collection for at least five years now and will for the first time be giving it some spin time. So, without further ado…
The Have Nots – House Of Pain wastes no time with a frivolous intro and gets right to the shits. The song begins with Everlast chanting, “Benevolence…mercy…discipline,” before going into the refrain over airy, cold and callous instrumentation that I imagine is what you’d hear the day after the apocalypse if you were the lone survivor of the battle of Armageddon. Everlast and Danny Boy share the mic and both sound like they have a lot to unpack. Danny discusses his dependence on God to overcome his suicidal thoughts, and when E’s not taking shots at emcees or trying to bag your girl, he’s addressing the spiritual warfare going on internally: “I’m on my knees, my face on the rug, one more prostration, for my salvation, my Jinn’s buckin’ up, it’s got me fuckin’ up, be callin’ my flesh but my soul won’t mesh.” If this opening track is any indication of how the rest of the album will sound, then I’m all in.
Fed Up – This was the lead single from Truth and a song I’ve never heard before this write-up. HOP keeps the airy vibes coming with this howling, dark and eerie mid-tempo backdrop. Everlast soulfully moaning “Lord, have mercy on my soul” and his opening bars (“I’ve got demons, runnin’ through my sleep, they like to creep, when my thoughts get deep, schemin’, tryna find a place to fit in, and manifest itself in the form of a sin”) would lead you to believe he’s going to build on the spiritual warfare he briefly touched on during the opening track, but he quickly deviates from the subject and turns his focus towards his frustration with wack and fabricated emcees, while Cockni O’Dire (an obvious candidate for worst alias of the year) sprinkles his reggae chanting in between the verses. Everlast’s growl (which is notably more intense than it was on the last two albums) sounds very similar to Nine’s gravelly delivery, which made me think that it would have been nice to hear him jump on this track with E. Nevertheless, it’s still a dope record without the presence of one of my favorite underappreciated emcees.
What’s That Smell – Divine Styler makes his first appearance of the evening, as he stops by to jump on this gutter track with Everlast. This time around I wasn’t fooled by E’s pleas for the “Lord to have mercy” at the beginning of the song, since his buddy, Mr. Styler, quickly interrupts them by dedicating this record to all the “dirty bitches out there,” before inviting them all to suck his nuts, and he’s not offering them a can of cashews. E starts his verse off with a bunch of randomness (i.e., wanting to be Johnny Mathis, hittin’ Hugh Hefner with his Playboy Bunnies, and his affinity for reading the Doonesbury comic) before he gets to the subject at hand: sexing some PYT. Then again, after listening to D. Styler’s abstract scientifical verse (which has nothing to do with sex) and the nonsensical hook, I’m not sure what the subject at hand truly is. But I did enjoy the grimy loop and the ill drums that back the duo’s incomplete idea.
Heart Full Of Sorrow – Now here’s an unlikely pairing. The white boy who dropped the n-word and got away with it unscathed (see “Keep It Comin'” off SAIEW) joins forces with the once Black militant five percenter, Sadat X, who was on quite the cameo tear around this time. The Ebony and Ivory duo sound like veteran emcees giving industry advice to rookies based on their own experiences with the politics and bullshit that come with the rap game. The concept is cool, but the instrumental was borderline boring and there is absolutely no reason that Divine Styler needed to chime in with a token verse at the end of this record.
Earthquake – Everlast and Divine Styler team up once again, as they take turns trying to out rhyme emcees, shoot up rival crews and brag about being the “Apple of your Earth’s eye” over a fervently mystical funky mid-tempo bop. Everlast (whose boast that no one in his crew is “living off HUD” and his threat to “put a whole in your back the size of a plum” were both amusing) easily out rhymes his partner, whose abstract bars get lost in his choppy flow. This is another record that would have sounded amazing with Everlast and Nine Double M replacing D. Styler.
Shut The Door – This is a fly lust song. Everlast, D. Styler and Cockni O’Dire take turns expressing their craving for some good old fashion sexual healing. I love that the fellas don’t beat around the bush (no pun intended) or deceitfully twist their physical desires for love, but like the hook, they’re direct and honest with their intentions: “If I get mine, you’ll get yours, and we can take it to the wild side behind closed doors, rip off your stockings and drop your draws, we can take it to the wild side behind closed doors.” But the true star of this record is the brilliant instrumental. The rough and heavy drums that perfectly clash with the buttery guitar licks sounds like something A Tribe Called Quest would have crafted. Speaking of ATCQ, a remix with Q-Tip and Phife replacing Styler and Cockni would have been fire (it’s a stretch, but Tribe Degrees of Separation: check).
Pass The Jinn – For those who may not know, a Jinn is a spirit that Muslims believe can possess the human body and make it perform evil deeds. Over a dark and intense instrumental, Everlast is at war with his Jinn in search of peace, and the battle produces some of the most insightful and vulnerable bars I’ve ever heard Everlast spit: “From the phat bag of blade I must consume, cause my soul’s on the verge of impending doom… I bow my head to the East, five times a day, I put my face in the dirt every time I pray, to disrupt the Jinn in me, ‘cause the sin in me’s, tryna take over, and make my soul crossover…the black 850 representin’ my status, plus, I got the baddest, house on the hill, my bank account’s full, but my soul’s empty still.” Styler and Cockni accompany E on the track, but completely disregard the subject at hand, choosing to spit random bars instead. This record would have worked so much better as a Everlast solo mission.
No Doubt – Everlast and DJ Lethal hook up a nice little funk backdrop built around a cool and catchy filtered wah wah loop, as E talks a little shit, drops a few jewels, and ultimately tries to get the party started. Our hosts’ intentions are clear with this record, and even though it probably didn’t work out how they intended it to, it still makes for a hypnotic groove.
Choose Your Poison – Danny Boy re-emerges from his extended bathroom break (we haven’t heard from him since the opening song) to jump on the track with his partner in rhyme. Everything about this record sounds like a leftover from the House Of Pain sessions. I wasn’t crazy about this one.
X-Files – Everlast spits more freestyle bars over a backdrop that has evil serpent vibes and sounds a little Rza-esque. Decent filler.
Fed Up (Remix) – HOP pays homage to Gang Starr’s “Just To Get A Rep” by giving Premo’s beat an airy makeover. And it’s only right that Everlast invites Guru (rip) to jump on the mic, turning this into a duet (Well, technically, it’s a three-man affair, since Cockni adds his unwarranted two sense at the end of the record). Guru sounds uncharacteristically hyped-up, and both emcees sound loose and fresh as they exchange sharp bars and cleverly pay respect to each other’s previous work without sounding like dick riders.
Killa Rhyme Klik – Everlast invites D. Styler and Mr. O’Dire to join him one last time for the evening, as they collectively form the Killa Rhyme Klik. The only problem is no one brought killer rhymes to the party. The rugged backdrop was nice, though, especially when the melodic zen break comes in during the hook.
While I’m Here – Similar to what he did on the closing track from SAIEW (see “Still Got A Lotta Love”), Everlast raps his shoutouts over a simple drumbeat, a rubbery bass line and a clip from Audio Two’s “Top Billin’.” And that’s a wrap.
Truth Crushed To Earth Shall Rise Again is more proof that Everlast is a talented emcee, and he really doesn’t need to lean on the feeble support of Divine Styler, Cockni O’Dire or Danny Boy. And while his mediocre band of help brings very little to Truth’s table, Everlast sounds better than he did on the first two albums, as his voice is progressively raspier and when he’s not threatening to fuck your girl or out rap and beat up emcees, he’s wrestling with God and tussling with demons, which bares fruit to some of the most insightful and intriguing bars of his career (at least to this point, I’m not super familiar with his Whitey Ford output yet). On the production side, Everlast and Lethal string together a quality batch of beats that hit more often than they miss and makes Muggs absence from the album null and void, while also giving the group a refreshingly different sound from the blunted brand of production that Muggs is known for.
Truth has its issues (mainly Divine Styler and Cockni O’Dire), but it’s the strongest album in the House Of Pain trilogy, and a quality swan song from hip-hop’s favorite Irish trio. The Beastie Boys weren’t Irish, right?