Former Ruff Ryder, actress and rapper Eve has been tapped to host the 2016 VH1 Hip Hop Honors: All Hail The Queens, which will air tonight (July 11) at 9 p.m. EST. Tonight’s honorees include Missy Elliot, Salt-N-Pepa, Lil Kim and Queen Latifah, while the set list of performers include Amber Rose, Keke Palmer, French Montana and Desiigner, among others.
Miss E-V-E has been living her best life in the United Kingdom with her hubby of two years, Maximillion Cooper, the founder of Gumball 3000. Aside from MC-ing tonight’s Hip Hop Honors, the Philly native recently starred in Barbershop: The Next Cut. She is also gearing up to go on tour with Gwen Stefani, and was recently made the Goodwill Ambassador for Malaika, a school for girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” rapper took some time out of her busy schedule to chat us…
VIBE: Congratulations on being named the host of the VH1 Hip Hop Honors! Are you excited, nervous?
Eve: Both. I’m super excited because obviously it’s going to be an amazing event, but I’m nervous because I always get nervous when I have to do public speaking or host anything. Right now my nerves are kind of crazy, but I think it’s just gonna be a great night. I’m looking forward to it.
This is the first Hip Hop Honors in about six years. Are you feeling any pressure from that?
Yeah, man, I just don’t wanna suck. [Laughs] It needs to be amazing. It needs to be good. But I think it’s gonna be great. So far, the run-of-show that I’ve gotten from VH1 has been incredible. It’s a big deal to them, obviously, to make it an exciting event.
Do you have the liberty to put your own spin on how the show goes? Do you have any surprises planned?
They definitely have asked for my input on certain things, but they have it pretty tight. I think there will still be some cool surprises. People will be like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe that happened!”
Of all the honorees (Salt-N-Pepa, Lil Kim, Queen Latifah, and Missy Elliot), who do you feel has influenced your career as a female rapper the most and in what way?
I honestly would say Salt-N-Pepa and Queen Latifah to start. And then it is probably Missy and then Lil Kim. In that order, because when I was little I always listened to hip-hop. I was around music through my aunt and she always listened to Queen Latifah and Salt-N-Pepa, and I remember growing up on them. Then, with high school and stuff, Missy and Kim. I think I’m probably influenced by all of them. For me, that’s why it’s such a big deal to be a part of this event because I’m actually a genuine fan of all of those women.
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During an interview with Larry King back in April, you said that Kendrick Lamar is the most influential rapper in the game today. Do you still feel that way and why?
I just respect him lyrically. We gotta be careful with our words, and I think that he has realized that. I just think he says smart things and I appreciate that. I’m a lyricist first, so I listen to the lyrics first before I even listen to the beat. I think that’s why he resonates with me. You can put on his album, and he’s not preaching at you, but he’s definitely giving you some type of knowledge. While I respect every artist to do whatever they feel like they need to do, at this time in our life, respecting violence, respecting guns, respecting popping off and killing people and trying to get burners and wishing for a burner—all of that is kind of crazy to me. It’s just nuts.
In that same interview you agreed with a statement that there are more feuds between female rappers today than in the ’90s. Why do you feel that is?
I don’t know. I always think about this because I’m like, “Is it a media thing? Is it because it’s a male-dominated business? Is it men not trying to help women come up? Is it us not trying to help ourselves come up?” I honestly wish I had an answer for it. I mean, just look at this VH1 situation. All of the women that are being celebrated are definitely from a different time, but I can personally say I’m cool with everyone and they’re all cool with each other. I don’t know when it happened that all of a sudden there needs to be this one dominant female when there’s light for everyone. I really do hope that that changes soon because in hip-hop there’s just too much testosterone, there’s too much of a male voice, and there needs to be more of a female voice and a female opinion.
As a woman in a male-dominated industry, could you describe experiences where you’ve felt discriminated against or underestimated?
There would be times I would walk in the studio, like if I was doing a feature with somebody, and they’d be like, “Should we wait for your writer?” and I’d be like “She’s here.” [Laughs] I write all my stuff. And I’ve been asked that more than a few times, which I think is so disrespectful. Because I’m a female I can’t write my own music? I don’t get it. I definitely came up against a lot, but I got lucky as well because Ruff Ryders held me down. That was boot camp for me. They put me through it as far as being able to write my own music, just like all the other dudes.
You’re currently preparing to go on tour with Gwen Stefani for her new album, This Is What The Truth Feels Like. You two have been friends for a long time, but how did this decision to join the tour come about?
Honestly, I just got a phone call. It was like “How would you feel?” and “Would you want to?” I kind of, at first, was like “Uh, I don’t know,” because my plan for the summer was to record and to put out some new music, but then I was like “What if this would be amazing?” What’s better than coming out on tour? Especially with Gwen, and I love Gwen. It’s always been an easy relationship with her, business wise. The rehearsals are going amazing. The show is gonna be incredible. Honestly, I can’t wait for people to see it and see me as well. It’s a nice catalyst for the new music I’ll put out afterwards.
You’ve been hinting for months that “exciting things are happening” with your new album. In an another interview, you said this next album will be representative of your growth and who you are right now in your life. Can you describe that growth, and how does who you are today compare to who you were when Lip Lock dropped?
Living in another country is definitely going to influence a lot of the music that I choose to go on this album. Also being married now and having kids and having step-kids—my life is definitely different. Also, the world is definitely different. I think that there’s just a lot to talk about at this time, whether it’s the violence that’s going on or whether it’s just empowering women. That’s what I really want to bring through with the new music. I think Lip Lock for me was more of breaking out of the system, That sounds so dramatic, but it was. I’d been on Interscope [Records] since I was 17, 18, and when they finally let me go I decided to go independent. So, Lip Lock was kind of an artistic journey of “Yo, now I’m free, and I can do whatever I want.” But yeah, I’m definitely different than when I made that album.
Over the past week, the world, at least for black and brown people has really shifted. Can you share your thoughts on what’s going on right now with police brutality in black and brown communities?
It’s pretty unbelievable that it’s still increasing, that it’s getting worse. It really is unbelievable to me that it’s getting worse. It is disgusting and heartbreaking and saddening and angering. There’s so many emotions that I actually have that it’s hard to put it all in one thing. I think there’s a lack of human respect, which is just ridiculous. It’s just disgusting. I don’t know. It really hurt me. It hurts my heart.