Eve has always been the one holding the leash, ever since her 1998 debut, Ruff Ryders' First Lady. While prepping for the May 14 release of her latest album, Lip Lock, the Philly rapper spoke with VIBE about the Ruff Ryders legacy, her past with Stevie J., DMX's struggles, marriage and finding the love of her life.
VIBE: What’s been your biggest challenge in trying to make a comeback?
Eve: Obviously, it's been a long time since I've been out with my own record and music's changed so much. It's another generation. So I think my biggest challenge has been getting back in there, figuring out how I do me without conforming to what the music is now. I didn't want to make fad music just so people pay attention. I felt like I needed to do me. I think I’ve done that so far.
What’s the music industry like now?
Music is more fused. There's a lot more dance music; a lot of the hip-hop is dance. I feel like it's two different ways: it’s either really dance and poppy or it's really slow and ratchet music, that trill music. So there's no real in between. That wasn't around when I was out in the beginning.
Do you think that’s better, worse or just different?
In some ways, it's better. I think artists have a lot more room to experiment and do different things. But on the other hand, because I’m a lyricist, I’m an MC first, I feel like a lot of real good music is being lost. There are great songs out, but I don't think a lot of it is that substantial. So I do miss that.
I don't really name names and all that, but a lot of the music that’s on the radio is really good for the clubs or when you’re tipsy. I like songs when I hear it in a certain environment, but there’s not many artists out that I want to listen to their whole record. I miss being able to get into an artist and listen to their whole record from top to bottom. There’s only a handful. I love Kendrick Lamar, I love Frank Ocean, and I'm still a Nas fan. Those are the ones I can throw on and listen to the whole album.
Have there been times in the past when you maybe wanted to experiment but got the pushback?
I did. I wanted to try a few things. The one thing I did get to try that was successful, thankfully, was the Gwen Stefani song, “Let me Blow Ya Mind." That was something I really wanted to do, but the label at first was like, “Nah, that's never gonna work.” Reggae is my heart; I love reggae. I listen to everything and back then I wanted to fuse different kinds of music with hip-hop. It wasn't something people were into, so it kind of got shot down. As a girl in a crew, as much as they let me do me, it still was a movement. So it still had to make sense for the movement.
How did the song end up happening?
I wrote the record and kept listening to the hook and was just like, “I want somebody different on this record.” I loved Gwen and I’ve been a fan of No Doubt since I was younger. I liked her style—she reminded me of me. She was a tomboy, a girly girl in a world full of dudes, and I was the same way. To me, it made sense. To other people it didn't. So when I suggested it, it was like, “Oh word? I don’t know if that's gonna work.” And then it just happened.
With Ruff Ryders, you were part of a big hip-hop movement. Did you realize how big it was?
I think you always felt it with Ruff Ryders because it was always so many of us together. When we came through a city, whether it was a club or came through to a show, we shut it down. You felt it because it was so many people. And if you weren't in the immediate crew, we always had motorcycle crews that would meet us in any city who had Ruff Ryders gear on. You felt how big it was.
How was your first time meeting DMX?