Eve is on a journey. Now with Lip Lock, her fourth album under her belt, the rapper/producer/actress is on a new path. Who knew that the Philly-bred rapper who stepped on the scene in 1999 with her all-male crew the Ruff Ryders would now be living in London, globetrotting with her British boyfriend and releasing an album on her own label? When I caught up with Eve, she had just landed in LA -- a typical travel schedule during a busy tour that will bring her to Washington, DC's Howard Theatre on Friday, September 13th. In the interview, we travel back in time to the beginning of her career and fast forward to her latest project and her love for foreign lands.
SoulBounce: It's been 10 years since you've released an album. What have you been up to?
Eve: I've been working, I've been performing, I've been traveling and I don't know. You know, I was supposed to put out an album after Tambourine, which was five or six years ago, and I started having issues with the label and then decided to chill off music for a minute and then the TV shows took up a lot of time. Then finally I just decided to put out music independently, which I finally did this year.
SB: Congratulations! How does it feel to put out your own album on your own label?
E: Oh, it feels good, I mean you know it's a lot of pros and cons. The pros are that obviously I get to sign off on everything. I basically got to do what I wanted artistically but then some of the cons you know it's kinda like having a major label definitely helps the push of the album, but at the same time I do feel good.
SB: And since it has been a while, what would you say has changed about you since you first got in the industry?
E: I think a lot of things. I'm definitely a woman now; I think when I started in the business I was young, real young. So I'm a woman now. I've grown up in the business. I've traveled a lot, you know. I live in a different country, you know what I'm saying? Like primarily my home base right now is London so yeah, lots of things have changed.
SB: So what would you go back and tell yourself, like when you first started, after all the experiences you've had since then. What's the one piece of advice you'd tell your younger self?
E: I would say trust my instincts. If I had a chance to go back I would definitely be like trust your instincts a lot more. When you're young you know, especially back then I had a crew of people around me, so I kinda thought they knew what was better for me than I knew myself. And at the end of the day you've gotta trust your instincts, you've gotta trust yourself. So I wish would've done that a little bit more.
SB: That is true, women have some pretty insightful guts.
E: Exactly. [laughs]
SB: So your new album is called Lip Lock. What was the inspiration for the name? You know when you hear "lip lock" you think of a number of things.
E: [laughs] Right, yeah I don't know. It's a name that kinda just stuck like two years ago. Salaam Remi actually came up with the name, and I kinda kept it for this album because I was like, you know I'm a lyricist and it's like lyrically locking the game down. Then, you know, my lips are one of my favorite features on myself and then it was just a play on names. I really like the way it sounds.
SB: I like it, too, it kinda makes you think of a dominatrix situation, but it's whatever you make it right? Actually I feel like you should come out with a lip gloss called Lip Lock, that'd be kinda hot!
E: Yeah, definitely! [laughs]
SB: So back to the album, you have some pretty cool collaborations, are there any favorites?
E: Umm, I think, I mean I'm happy that everyone that's on the album, I'm really happy they showed up. But I think my most favorite probably would be Missy Elliott. Like, getting her on this album was big for me. I'm a fan of Missy's and Missy's been a friend of mine since I've been in the business. And I felt like I needed a female presence as far as hip hop goes on this album so it's me and Missy, and then we have a new girl on it called Nacho, who's just amazing. So that's one of my favorite records on the album.
SB: Speaking of females in hip hop, what do you think about women in hip hop right now? Do you feel like there's a female presence right now or could it be better?
E: I think it could be better. I think there's a lot of great females that are coming up, like there are so many talented chicks that are coming up. I don't think that they have equal shine yet like the dudes, and I think that hopefully in a year or two it will be equal again cause right now there are some females out there. But right now all you hear about is Nicki [Minaj] and you sometimes hear about Azealia Banks, but then the other females that are out, like there's so many. Angel Haze is amazing, like she gets buzz, but they're not like breaking through and I think there needs to be more balance with females. There's too many dudes out, there's way too many out. It's ridiculous! Oh my God, some of them are so wack! I'm like what are you saying? Like what are you actually talking about, I can't take it.
SB: Why do you think that is that women can't break that glass ceiling when it comes to hip hop right now?
E: I think there's so many men in the business, in the industry period, the men that make decisions. There are men that make the decisions I should say, men that are signing or have the power to sign a new artist, and a lot of them don't like females. A lot of them don't like female MC's, and I think that has a lot to do with it. A lot of them don't want to work with females, and I think that's the biggest thing, but I could be wrong. I don't know, I could be wrong, but I know even to this day I've had men come up to me like "you know I usually don't like female rappers but I like you." So I think it's a thing with men and female rappers. I don't know, it's discrimination.
SB: What is it about you that you think men react that way, what is that quality that you have?
E: I think it's a few things. I think number one I come from a crew of dudes, I come from Ruff Ryders, and that's always a crew I think that people have respected. But then on top of that, for me my main goal when I started rapping, even before I was signed, when I was younger battling at cyphers, my biggest thing was that I didn't come off as a girl. I didn't want to be good for a girl, I wanted to be a girl, obviously I am a girl, but I wanted to be aggressive like how I saw dudes, you know what I'm saying? I didn't want to be rapping about cute things, I wanted to battle these dudes, and I wanted to be their counterpart like "you think you can rhyme? I can rhyme." I think it's always been my attitude as well. I think it's in the attitude.
SB: And how do you think the guys in Ruff Ryders helped you? Did they stick up for you when people didn't take you seriously?
E: Nah, I think at the end of the day they knew when they signed me. I always say that Ruff Ryders for me was like boot camp. They signed me, and they didn't treat me any different than the guys. If the guys were in the studio 24 hours then I had to be in the studio 24 hours. They didn't make things easier for me, I had to write just like the dudes, nobody wrote my rhymes and I had to prove myself. And I think it made me that much better as an MC, a person, an entertainer, like everything because if you're here you need to prove yourself just like everybody else. And then once I did proved myself and was out there battling guys and doing shows, that's when they started basically protecting me and I was baby sis. But I had to prove myself first.
SB: Speaking of Ruff Ryders, what's everyone up to and are you still in contact with everyone?
E: Not really, I'd say it's like a family, you grow up and you go off and have your own lives. Like we're all grown ups and most of them have kids now and been married or whatever. I saw DMX over the weekend, I was in Detroit and I had a show with him. I get to see him every so often but as far as keeping in touch, we don't really keep in touch like that. You know when we see each other, we see each other and it's all love, but that's about it.
SB: So I follow you on Instagram and I notice that you travel a lot, joining your boo (British entrepreneur Maximillion Cooper) with his annual rally Gumball 3000. Tell me about that experience.
E: It's fun man, like that's just honestly, even if I wasn't with him I would do it every year anyway. It's like an amazing adventure. And for me like that's just my tomboy side like cars, and motorcycles and all of that, I've always loved that kind of stuff and I love driving. But being able to be with him and like now I'm so into it cause obviously that's my man but like now I'm involved when he's planning the route, the sponsorship. It's really amazing, like a sick adventure. And you meet so many different people like you would never ever get a chance to meet, like there are musicians on it, rappers whatever, skateboarders, there's Saudi princes and kings, and all kinds of stuff. And then there's like regular people, it's just like there's so many people and every year I look forward to it, it's just really cool.
SB: Since we only have time for one more question and this is SoulBounce.com, what makes your soul bounce?
E: Oh, that's a good question, that's a really good question. I would say probably when I'm on an adventure, when I'm somewhere that's not something I'm used to, I like being in a foreign country or with some friends or people I love and trying to figure out what that country is about. Just on an adventure, whatever we gotta figure out to get to that next place or figure what that country's about, I love traveling so I think that probably makes my soul bounce.