July 21, 2022

House of Pain "Fine Malt Lyrics" (30th Anniversary, 1992)

"We're animals trying to be men," laughs Everlast, lead rapper of the Irish-American rap act House of Pain. Explaining the inspiration for the group's name, he describes the movie "The Island of Dr. Moreau," "It's about a scientist who tries to turn animals into men, and the place where he took them to punish them was the House of Pain." Danny Boy and DJ Lethal round out the trio that produced the gold smash single "Jump Around," and a debut album filled with dense, diverse samples and a rap style that recalls the kind of shit-kicking you hear at a party or on a basketball court. "If you get on the basketball court, talking shit is half the game," Everlast says. "I look at the lyrics like a basketball, like I'm bouncing them off the beat." Everlast is sporting a basketball jersey in their video for "Jump Around," but it wasn't the jersey of his hometown Lakers. He wore Boston Celtics green, a nod to the heritage of both himself and rapping partner Danny Boy -- as is House of Pain's shamrock emblem, "Fine Malt Lyrics." "It definitely does fit the 'Irish' stereotype," Danny Boy says of their image, "but it just happens, as do we." "We don't try to be preachers of Irish history, or Irish politics," adds Everlast. "It's just two guys who happen to have Irish blood, you know, happen to have a taste for some beer once in a while, and like to kick funky rhymes." The group got together in 1990, after Everlast left the Rhyme Syndicate. "The name of the group came from an old punk band I used to have," says Danny Boy. Adds Everlast, "When I saw the name written down at his house, it clicked with me, and later on I figured out it was because of the "Island of Dr. Moreau" movie that I'd seen when I was young." // (Revisit the album while you continue reading below) .....

Everlast (Erik Schrody, age 22) and Danny Boy (Danny O'Connor, 23) met at Taft High School, which is also the alma mater of Ice Cube and Divine Styler. "There was a whole spectrum of people with different music preferences," states Everlast, "from punk rockers, to rappers to hard rocks." "You knew who was a B-boy and who wasn't," says Danny Boy. "You knew who liked rap and who didn't. Of course we weren't going to click." The House of Pain crew is rounded out by Latvian-born DJ Lethal (Leor Dimant), who worked on Everlast's previous solo projects as part of Ice-T's Rhyme Syndicate. DJ Lethal's mix changes colors from the psychedelic dub style of the "House of Pain Anthem," through the infectious "Top O' The Morning To Ya" - laced with woozy harmonica and slippery scratches - to the jazzy shifts of "All My Love." "I'm like jumping around the beat, picking out things to put in the beat," says DJ Lethal, who, at age 19, has emerged as a sampling ace, looping without reliance on drum programs. "Hip-Hop is my first love, but incorporated into hip-hop are a lot of forms of music," Lethal says of his cross-style collage. "I'll take a beat from rock, I'll take a little horn from jazz and I'll take a little organ from some old classical piece." The album produced by Lethal, Muggs of Cypress Hill, who lead rapper B-Real joins Everlast on "Put Your Head Out," and Ralph M of FunkDoobiest. "The first time people hear your record, they don't listen to the lyrics, they listen to the flow and the music," Everlast says. "And if you get in this weird (lyrical) thing, where they're going "Ooh, listen to him bug out!, THEN they're going to listen to what you said. I put a lot of thought into my style beforehand, but when I finally come down to writing the songs, I do it in a form of freestyle. I like that spontaneity. It's pure feeling rather than being over-rehearsed or over-written, or over-thinking about it," he says. "There are a few rhymes that are totally flipped around from what we thought we were starting with. But I saw that the rhymes fit the beats, and makes each part as entertaining as possible." - Press Kit, 1992. Undeniable classic.