Ever since Eve broke on the scene in 1999 she’s had a knack for making stardom look easy. Grammy Award winner. Check. Starring in blockbuster films. Check. Achieving elite status as a fashion icon. Check. The “blonde bombshell” is a triple threat entertainer in the truest sense of the term. And one of the reasons you can’t take your eyes off of her is your ears. In an era when success in hip-hop is built on the portentous hype of saving the genre from imminent gloom and doom or testosterone driven beef, Eve remains a bankable star who grabs your attention with her consummate talent for crafting infectious hits. She’s proof positive that hip-hop doesn’t need to be saved or resurrected; it just needs a woman’s touch every now and then.
Hence, following a successful four-year takeover of the Hollywood and fashion scene, Eve is set to drop Here I Am, a more mature and adventurous album, one she calls her best effort to date. “This is the album I’ve always wanted to make,” she says. “In the past my albums have had a heavy male influence. Not this time. This one represents the woman I am today.” And there’s no doubt that the woman who brought us hits like “What Ya Want,” and “Let Me Blow Ya Mind,” is supremely confident that a mass variety of music lovers not just the hip-hop faithful will appreciate were she’s coming from this time around. “I didn’t just cater to a rap audience with this album,” she says. “I can go to the Pop Top 40 with this because it’s far more universal than anything I’ve done. You’re going to pay attention to me because it’s different.”
Having people take notice of her talents has never been a problem for Eve Jihan Jeffers. During the late 90’s and early millennium the Philadelphia-bred MC was a key component in the seminal rap squad the Ruff Ryders. As the only female in the crew that consisted of rappers DMX, The Lox and Drag-on, Eve stood out as the sexy, no-nonsense street savvy, ride-or-die chick that could hold her own amongst the boys. Anchored by chart-topping singles like the vivacious “Gotta Man” and the anti-domestic abuse classic “Love Is Blind” Eve’s 1999 debut album Let There Be Eve…Ruff Ryder’s First Lady was a double platinum success. Her 2001 sophomore release Scorpion went platinum, while garnering her crossover appeal with the Grammy Award winning mega-hit “Let Me Blow Ya Mind,” featuring Gwen Stefani.
It didn’t take long for Hollywood to come calling on Eve for her unique and commercially viable persona. The self-professed “pitbull in a skirt” was maturing into a glamorous avant-garde fashion goddess. In 2002 she made her silver screen debut in Vin Diesel’s action blockbuster XXX, but it was her role later that year as the feisty female barber Terri, in Ice Cube’s Barbershop that would win her the most attention for future employment. UPN network quickly tapped Eve to produce and star in a self-titled sitcom about a fashion designer. With her newfound celebrity in Tinsel town it seemed appropriate that Eve would release her aptly titled third album Eve-Olution in the summer of 2002. Focused more on her growth as a person through love and relationships the album’s memorable features include the alluring collaboration with Alicia Keys “Gangsta Love” and the Grammy nominated, Dr. Dre produced single “Satisfaction”.
After the release of Eve-Olution Eve turned her focus to her thespian responsibilities and her clothing line Fetish. “Acting and getting into fashion were some things I enjoyed doing and I wanted to really pursue.” In 2004 she went on to take roles in three different films, Barbershop 2: Back In Business, The Woodsman, and The Cookout. “Acting is a whole different mindset from rapping,” she says. “I feel fortunate to have gotten advice from people like [Queen] Latifah and [Ice] Cube. Especially Latifah, she’s like a big sister to me. I aspire to emulate her career.”
On her way to attaining that royal status Here I Am is another milestone to be added to the impressive body of work Eve has amassed over the course of her illustrious career. A top flight MC in any arena male or female Eve’s unmistakable, aggressive style is ideal on the instantly appealing rap-rock hybrid “Aint Nothin Changed”. Not an official single the mixtape smash, was the most sought after record on Eve’s myspace page. Over a chopped & screwed sample of the White Stripes’ classic “Seven Nation Army” the blond bombshell fittingly raps: “Had to get back in the game/to deal with some unfinished business/What you thought I gave it up?/Like I was done and over.
Far from finished Here I Am truly speaks to the growth of an artist that has transcended the ride or die chick niche hip-hop carved out for her. One listen to the hyper-chants and hard-charging bounce of the Swizz Beatz produced lead single “TK” and you’ll see why all eyes will be on Eve this summer. “I wanted this coming out party to be an event,” she says. “This record symbolizes that.” I didn’t want to do what people expected me to do.” Surely no one will expect to hear Eve singing as she effectively does on the 80’s pop-influenced “Tk” produced by Pharrell. Or anticipate her reggae-tinged aura on the breezy second single “Give It To You” featuring Sean Paul. Along with collaborations with T.I., Robin Thicke and Timbaland Here I Am is chock full of pleasant surprises.
As you can see Eve’s time away from hip-hop was not spent idle. Now considered a genuine star in the worlds of music, fashion and film, she’s currently preparing to launch “a more womanly” line of Fetish and starting her own film production company. More importantly, she looks forward to getting knee deep in the rigors of the rap game. “I can’t wait to get back on tour,” she says. “I miss performing. I need it. It’s an indescribable hunger that I have.” Clearly, after 8 years in the business Eve hasn’t lost her zest for the music, which is all the reason why this album will absolutely spice things up - for the better. Just as the old saying goes, hip-hop is a man’s world, but it wouldn’t be anything without a woman in it.