Friday, March 20, 2009
Hip-Hop Fridays: House Of Pain "Same As It Ever Was" (1994)
After dropping their frat house anthem, 'Jump Around', House Of Pain had been pretty much relegated to one-hit wonder status, where they still remain. As an 11 year-old kid 'Jump Around' was one of the first hip-hop tracks that was popular enough on the radio for me to finally notice the burgeoning genre. Not exactly the best way to be introduced to hip-hop, but, hey, I was living in the suburbs and my only inlet was commercial radio (Rap City, which aired on Much Music, was still a few years away). The song quickly lost it's flavor and I was well on my to discovering acts like Cypress Hill and Ice Cube, both of whom had a lot more respect and, well, better records. A friend of mine eventually picked up a copy of House of Pain's second album, "Same As It Ever Was", and, minutes into hearing the opening track, 'Back From The Dead' (posted below), I clearly had to change my mind about these guys.
First off, Everlast, who pretty much does all the rhyming here (Danny Boy only makes three appearances), altered his voice into a tougher, coarser version, coming off sounding a lot hungrier than on their debut. His new style perfectly matched the bass-heavy and darker production that dominates the album. It appeared as if HoP were looking to shed their cheesy past and they did so exceedingly well on this follow-up.
Admittedly, Everlast can come still come off a little cliche (see his chorus in the otherwise awesome 'On Point'), and he spends most of his time gloating about his superior mic skills, which can get old after a 15 straight tracks. But it's mostly forgivable due to the top notch production, courtesy of DJ Muggs of Cypress Hill, who was unbeatable at this point (Muggs was in between producing Cypress Hill's two phenomenal albums, "Black Sunday" and "Temples Of Boom"). His style is pretty unmistakable here; high-pitch horn squeals and his trademark ultra-low bass are especially impacting alongside Everlast's delivery. However, the best track goes out to 'Word Is Bond', which features production by the almighty Diamond D of the Diggin' In The Crates Crew. Though I missed most of the DITC action when it first dropped, thanks to House Of Pain, these young ears had their first taste of one of rap's all-time greatest crews. Diamond D even takes the time out to drop a verse on the track.
"Same As It Ever Was" managed to go gold in the US, most likely due to the prior success of 'Jump Around', but the album received little airplay and didn't yield any hits, though it did receive high marks from the Village Voice's head critic Robert Christgau. Also, I can't even seem to find any videos on youtube, and, thinking about it now, don't really remember seeing any videos from this album at all (enlightened readers should let me know if this is the case or not). Needless to say, "Same As It Ever Was" has dropped into obscurity and the group still remain a bit of a joke.
'Word Is Bond' produced by and featuring Diamond D
'Back From The Dead'
'Where I'm From'
"On Point" live on Top of the Pops
Download "Same As It Ever Was" here.