The Eve-olution Continues
It’s rare that anyone in the music industry can be away from producing new music for over a decade, and comeback to pick up where he or she left off. Philly’s Grammy-winning hip-hop rap diva Eve is hoping that she will be the exception to the norm, and her new album release after an 11-year hiatus "Lip Lock" will once again place her atop the female rapper throne. Since her prominence in hip-hop has been absent, a great many of female rappers have taken the hip-hop world by storm led by Nicki Minaj, Azealia Banks, and Angel Haze, all of whom Eve has given props to.
Noting that she has had a full album completed and ready to go some time ago while with Interscope Records, Eve expressed, "I think my album wasn’t what the execs were looking for." It took starting her own record label, From The Rib Records, and creative control for Eve to regroup and finally put the thrice-titled project "Lip Lock" out, releasing it in May 2013.
By listening to the 12-track album, you wouldn’t think that 11 years has passed since Eve had released "Eve-Olution," her last album in 2002. She sounds just as fresh and varied as she takes from the Reggae rhythms of the Gabe Sapora collaboration "Make It Out This Town" to her hard core women’s anthem rap on "Eve."
The addition of fellow hip-hop royal Missy Elliott (also lodging a comeback) collaborating on "Wanna Be," we are reminded that even with all the "new" in the female representation in rap, that these new rapping divas are not replacements to, but mere extensions of the Queendom Eve helped build.
While on a promotional tour to support "Lip Lock," which includes a stop in San Francisco to headline the 2013 EDEN Pride at Mezzanine, I caught up with Eve and chatted about her 11-year hiatus, the confidence gained from starting her own record label, rap’s sisterhood, starting a family, her gay fans, and yes, that Britney Spears comment.
Why the hiatus?
BeBe: We’ve been waiting 11 years since your last album release ’Eve-Olution’ (2002) for new music from you. Even Whitney didn’t take this long between studio albums (both laugh). What was going on with you during these years between releases, and what caused the delays with this new album ’Lip Lock?’
Eve: Well, I had an album ready to come out after (single) ’Tambourine,’ and that’s when I started having problems with the label (Interscope Records). So there was an album ready to go five or six years ago. It just didn’t work out. It was what it was. And in those 11 years, I’ve been performing. I had a (self-titled) TV show that took up about 4 years of my life (’Eve’ aired 2003-2006). so, I’ve been non-stop. It just took this long.
BeBe: During that time, you were a featured artist on a wealth of other artist’s music (featured on over 30 singles by other artists 2002-2012). We know you were out there working it. Now, things have changed much with music industry since your last release in 2002. Did you have any trepidation going into releasing ’Lip Lock’ after so long?
Eve: Not really. It kind of excited me that everything had changed and was new to me. Social media wasn’t even around when I last dropped an album. It excited me that it was a whole new world. I feel like a new artist because I’m having to learn so many new things. I don’t think I had any feelings about putting out new music until after the album was done. Then, it was like, oh shit! It was like now I did it, but am I really ready for it?
BeBe: The first two singles from ’Lip Lock,’ first, the collaboration with Gabe Sapora from Cobra Starship ’Make It Out This Town’ is all the way live, girl. That is so there.
Eve: He’s so dope!
BeBe: Then, you recently released ’Eve,’ which is your anthem for the women out there. The two songs are vastly different from each other, but you’ve always been somewhat hip-hop eclectic in your music in the past. Changing it up from time to time. And, collaborations are not new to you. You’ve had big success working with other artists including grabbing a Grammy for your collaboration with Gwen Stefani, ’Let Me Blow Ya Mind’ (from Eve’s album ’Scorpion’). So, none of that is different from the Eve of the past. But, there is something a little different this go ’round. Something new that I’m hearing now in your music. What is it that I’m hearing?
Eve: I guess in a sense there’s a new confidence that I never had before, especially having to put this album out on my own label (From the Rib). I had a lot of creative freedom and business decision freedom that I’ve never had before. Doing this album made me feel confident. Made me go, yeah, this is my shit! All me. Hopefully, you can feel that on this album.
BeBe: Definitely. It’s almost like an "Eve rebirth", you know. Like a snake shedding its old skin and taking on the world in new skin, stronger and fresher. Because, there is nothing weak about ’Lip Lock.’
Eve: Oh, thank you!
BeBe: You dedicate ’Make It Out This Town’ to the Big Brothers, Big Sisters organization. What has been your connection to and experience with them?
Eve: First, I had never been a mentor before, and I’ve never had a mentor, but when Big Brothers, Big Sisters came to me and asked if I wanted to be involved, I was just so impressed with them with their passion and commitment to mentor these children. It was definitely the type of organization I wanted to be involved in. I love children, and anything I can do for a single mom by lending my voice to an organization like that was a no-brainer.
BeBe: What’s the message you are putting out through the song?
Eve: To me, the song literally means you may have to make it out of your town and go somewhere else in order for you to achieve your dreams. And, it is figuratively saying if you’re in a bad place in your life and in your mind, you have to make it out of that space to move on with your life. That’s what the song is about.
BeBe: Speaking of your love of children, you’ve mentioned in other interviews that it is now about time for you to start baking some lil’ Eves (with longtime British billionaire boyfriend Maximillion Cooper). With a new album out and a tour sure to follow, how soon do you think you can start a family?
Eve: I don’t know! It’s definitely not going to be this year, but if it were to happen this year, it would be completely fine. It’s not something I think about planning or not planning. I leave that up to God. I definitely will be working a ton the rest of the year, so we’ll see what happens.
BeBe: Getting back to the album, we talked about your collaboration with Sapora on the album, but you’ve also other collaborations on ’Lip Lock’ with notables Missy Elliott, Snoop Dogg, Dawn Richard (Danity Kane and Diddy-Dirty Money), Chrisette Michele and Pusha T. Were your songs with these artists always planned for them to be apart of, or did it just sort of happen that way?
Eve: Honestly, it sort of happened. Everything happened organically. Everyone on this album wanted to be on this album, which made me feel good. I didn’t have to keep calling somebody after not getting returned phone calls. People were like I’m down to do it.
BeBe: Tell me how you are feeling about your upcoming performance in San Francisco at the LGBT community’s 2013 EDEN Pride on June 29th?
Eve: I’m very excited!
BeBe: You and your other female rappers who are apart of the hip-hop community seem to have no problem performing before your LGBT fans at specific LGBT community events. I can go back 20 years and there has always been participation from the female front of the hip-hop community in LGBT events, but I don’t see that same visibility in the gay community from your male counterparts. Do you have any commentary why that difference in practice exists between the men and women rappers specifically? The male rappers have to know they have gay fans!
Eve: Exactly. (Female rappers) don’t hesitate at all (with gay events) if the opportunity arises. But, you know how hip-hop is. With men especially, it’s just ’a thing,’ and it shouldn’t be ’a thing’ in this day and age. It shouldn’t be an issue. Maybe it’s just easier for women. With men, unfortunately, there’s too much macho bullshit. At this point, it’s ridiculous! At the end of the day, (male rappers) are cutting off a lot of their fans by not performing for the LGBT community, and by not reaching out to everyone. I think that’s unfortunate for them, but for me... it leaves more gay fans for me (we both roar with laughter).
BeBe: One thing throughout your career that I’ve noticed is that you really haven’t had any beef with any fellow artists. That’s been appealing since we know the amount of shit-talking that goes on in your business. Instead of hating the so-called competition, you embrace them. You’ve made some great comments about new rapping sensation Azealia Banks, for example. Do you think of it all as a big sisterhood together trying to conquer this male dominated rap world?
BeBe: However.....( the big elephant enters the room), you recently made a comment while on ’The Andy Cohen Show’ about Britney Spears not singing on her collaboration with will.i.am, ’Scream and Shout.’ Was that a diss?
Eve: Well, the comment was that I ’heard’ that it wasn’t Britney on the top of the song. I didn’t say anything about Britney Spears as a person. I love her. I actually listen to and buy her music. The comment was not a backlash to her. It was a real comment on what someone close to the producer told me about it wasn’t her on the song. Not the singing, but the English-accented speaking voice. That’s all that was.
BeBe: I thought Britney had gone all Tina Turner on me, and suddenly acquired a British accent.
(We laugh loudly)
But conversely, you have definitely supported Beyonce from recent attacks made about her new single ’Bow Down,’ and Beyonce’s use of the phrase "bow down, bitches" on the record. You stepped up to defend Beyonce on her creative choice, why?
Eve: Every little thing Beyonce does comes under criticism. It doesn’t matter what it is. I say let her do what she wants. People want to keep some people in a certain kind of box. They have to remember that people are creative. People should be allowed to do what they want to do. If she was feeling that when she went into the studio, then "fuck it"!
BeBe: You amassed quite a bit of a film resume during your 11-year hiatus between albums, 11 films to be exact, and have two films, ’Wifed Out’ and ’Bounty Killer,’ still in final production. With your resurgence back to music, what does that do to your acting career?
Eve: It’s been such an obsession to get the album out. It took my everything, and I wanted to focus on it. But, I’ve definitely been thinking about TV again, and I love doing movies. I’m going to support this album first, and then at the end of this year or beginning of next year, I’ll get back into the acting world.
Eve headlines 2013 EDEN Pride’s 3-day event at Mezzanine in San Francisco with a performance on Saturday, June 29. For more information go to www.edeninthebay.com or www.mezzaninesf.com
Follow Eve’s return to music on her website www.eve-world.com
As an actress, BeBe was introduced to film with a lead role in the independent film "Under One Sun" with her character dealing with religious, racial and gender issues. Additionally, she appeared in the campy musical "Devious, Inc" (Australian Film Festival, San Francisco Short Film Fest) also adding additional vocals to the musical soundtrack. Both of these performances led to her selection for a lead role in Aisha Media’s next short film series, "Con-tin.u.um" to be released in 2012.