Eve, the last female MC to drop a successful album, makes her return to the Hip Hop Scene. She address rumors from her dating a white man to no longer being part of Interscope. We talked about the music industry and people feeling she sold out due to changing her style. I left the interview feeling Eve keeps it real and doesn’t sugar coat things to please others.
RealTalk With Eve: No Longer A Pitbull In A Skirt
By Nigel Degraff
RTNY: What first sparked your interest in music?
Eve: Hmm, attention probably. I was one of those kids that always wanted to get attention. So I started singing first, I was in choirs and all that stuff. At 12 years old I had a little group with a fake manager. At the time ABC was out, and he was like yall should start rapping like them, so I just stuck with it.
RTNY: When did you start taking music serious?
Eve: When I was like 15, when I got to high school. I started battling people in the lunchroom and I was like you know what, I can do this for real, I like this feeling. Once I graduated high school I was like this is it.
RTNY: How did you first get your record deal?
Eve: I had done like every talent show you could imagine in Philly. Also I even jumped on the train to New York and met people. Finally I had given up, I was like I’m going to college because nobody is picking me up and I’m never going to get signed. I was like 18-19, I was like I’m done, my life is whatever. As soon as I made the call to my homegirls, saying I want to come to your college, I got a phone call from people in Philly. They asked if I wanted to come audition for the president of Dre’s company. I came for the audition, then they flew me to Cali and I got signed.
RTNY: How was the process of making your debut album?
Eve: It was fun, at that time I was 20 and had so much to talk about and so much to prove. I had all my rowdy girlfriends around me. It was just that feeling of being in the studio and having your friends and family with you. Especially being with the Rough Ryders, just that energy, it was the best feeling ever.
RTNY: Did you feel a lot of pressure?
Eve: I didn’t feel the pressure because I thought I was the shit. I was just ready, I felt like this was the time in my life, this is it.
RTNY: Was being down with Rough Ryder feel like a family?
Eve: It did, I was baby sis. In the beginning I was like one of the boys. Like they don’t treat you special. I slept, ate, went to the studio 24 hours, wherever they was, I was there. They did not treat me anymore special than anyone until I started proving I can write and I can write against the guys. Once they saw that, they would throw me into circles, into ciphers and battles. Then they was like she has proven herself, now we are going to bring her closer.
RTNY: How did your life change when your music was getting play on the radio and your videos shown on television?
Eve: It changed more when other people started recognizing it and me. That in the beginning was like, oh this is real, you know. It was a great feeling, of course when you have your friends with you, they egg you on.
RTNY: Did some people change?
Eve: Absolutely, I don’t have any of the friends in my life that I did at that point. Of course they were like you changed, your not the same person. It blew my mind, I was like this can’t be real. I felt I was definitely the same person I was, it broke my heart. That was a really tough time in my life, because I’m like maybe I am doing something wrong. Maybe this wasn’t suppose to be, I started questioning everything. At the end of the day it is, what it is. I’m blessed and have a great group of people around me now, its amazing.
RTNY: During those tough times who did you look to for support?
Eve: I am very much the kind of person that draws into myself. I don’t like to cry in front of people, I don’t really like to tell people my problems. At that time I went through a private depression, for a few months I went through a lot of mental stress. Finally once I got through it I was able to call my mother. I’m the same way to this day, like I’m really upset over something, I get through it first and then call my mom. Then I deal with the residuals of whatever. I just prayed a lot, did a lot of praying, I was like God please, give me my sanity. If this is not meant to be then just take it, I don’t want it.
RTNY: How was making your sophomore album?
Eve: The second one was a lot more pressure than the fist one. Actually because the first one had done so well. I was like ok, I got to keep this going. I can’t look like, “Oh this girl came out with one good album.” The second one has to be just as dope. I was going through something in a relationship at the time and it was a little difficult. But it was still a fun process.
RTNY: How did it feel to go platinum?
Eve: Incredible, it’s like the craziest feeling ever. Especially like the first time you come out, it’s like, “Are you serious, my album went platinum?” That’s an incredible feeling.
RTNY: How was the process of making your third album?
Eve: The third album was even more pressure, because I had started to change a lot from the first and second album. Even though Rough Ryders was still involved in the third album, I was getting older and a lot of things I was into before, I wasn’t into at that point. I think I changed too fast for my audience. Especially since you got to throw those albums out, you got to do them. It takes a minute for people to see your growth as your growing. Your growing everyday, but people only get to see you at those flashes of moments. The album didn’t sell as well as we had hoped, but it didn’t bother me. I didn’t feel upset or depressed about it. I just felt like ok, they didn’t get the direction, you know, where I was going.
RTNY: Do you feel artist that show growth are unfairly called sell-outs?
Eve: Absolutely, I feel like that’s crazy. People grow everyday of their lives, especially being an artist, you can not contain that. When you contain that, your doing a disservice to yourself. At the end of the day I got to be real to myself, I go to be true to who I am as a person and as an artist, before I’m worried about what everyone else wants. It would be fake of me to try to pretend to do that same shit I did on my first album. I can’t do that now, it would sound ridiculous coming out of my mouth. I think that’s very unfair.
RTNY: How was acting?
Eve: I love acting, the T.V. show was good, it was really fun. But it was a lot of hard work. I had a ball doing it, but I love doing movies over T.V. shows. I would do a movie over a TV show any day of the week. I hope I can continue to act. I’m still looking at scripts, and I have a movie production company. We are trying to develop a film, but right now the focus is on the album.
RTNY: Music or acting?
Eve: Both, I can’t give up either one, I can’t give up one for the other. There so different, I just love both.
RTNY: How is the clothing line, “Fetish,” going?
Eve: It’s going good, we are revamping the whole line. It is going to be more of a contemporary line, before it was juniors. It’s going to be more of what I wear, more of my style and it will reflect me a lot more than it did before.
RTNY: Can you tell us about new album, “Here I Am.”
Eve: The new album is in stores August 7th. This is for me my favorite album I ever done. It’s definitely a good album, an upbeat album, I at least hopes it makes people feel good. Those are the albums that I listen to. I wanted to make an album people can drive in their car too, or get dressed to go to the club too. Guest include Sean Paul, Sizzla, Elan, T.I., Mary J. Blige and Robin Thicke. Production by Pharrell, Timbaland, Swizz Beatz, Scott Storch, Dre, Dre & Vidal, Rich Skillz, Danja & Cool & Dre.
RTNY: What label will this album come out on?
Eve: I’m still on aftermath, I’m still on Interscope but Geffen is taking care of my marketing and promotion. Basically my every day groundwork, Full Surface will also have their stamp on it because Swizz Beatz is one of the executive producers.
RTNY: Can you tell us about, “Tambourine.”
Eve: Tambourine is an upbeat dance song, definitely good for the clubs and summer time. There is also a dance to it, we just shot the video last week, and people will see the dance in the video. It’s a fun and infectious song, I’ve been getting a really good response from people.
RTNY: How was making the video?
Eve: That was fun, I can’t wait for it to come out. If people are calling me pop now, they are going to be like this girl has really crossed over. It’s very bright, all the colors are neon, pink, yellow, nothing like anything I have seen on T.V. before. I can’t wait to see it, I’m really proud of it.
RTNY: Would you consider, “Here I Am,” diverse?
Eve: The album is very diverse, I have 3 reggae songs on the album, which I have never done before. I’m actually singing on one of my songs. I definitely have the Hip Hop stuff, like the song I have with T.I. The Robin Thicke song is completely different from anything I’ve done before. It’s definitely diverse.
RTNY: What inspired this album?
Eve: My inspiration was the albums I listen too. The records that make me feel good when I’m driving and getting dressed to go out. The albums I can put on when I’m in a bad mood, and that’s the album I wanted to make.
RTNY: Do you feel artist should be broken down into genres?
Eve: At this point, music is all blended together anyway. Five years ago Hip Hop wouldn’t be playing on pop stations. Robin Thicke & Justin Timerlake wouldn’t have been able to get on an urban station. Music has blended, there is no real divide these days.
RTNY: What are your thoughts on the whole Don Imus fiasco?
Eve: What I hate about is people pointing the finger at Hip Hop. I just don’t think he is riding around listening to Hip Hop, as old as he is, he can’t be influenced by what some kids are saying. AND, I haven’t heard Nappy Headed Hoe in a rap song is soooo many years. I think it’s just wrong and I think what he said was to be mean and spiteful.
RTNY: Do you feel Hip Hop desensitizes words like Nigger, Bitch, Nappy Headed Ho(Lol)?
Eve: Yes, I think so, maybe people should take those words more seriously. they are derogatory words, I would be fake to sit here and say their just words. But just like the way people ask me about the word nigga, it’s a slang word.
RTNY: Do you use some of these words?
Eve: I never said nappy headed hoe, well in high school probably, as I have got older no. “Bitch,” I barely use, Nigga, yes I do use. It’s part of my vocabulary, it has been part of it for years. I have used it on this album, I didn’t consciously think about not writing it because it doesn’t bother me. But, I get it, if we are all going to do it, then we all need to do it. there needs to be a movement, if we are gong to erase the word, than lets erase the word.
RTNY: Do you feel Hip Hop is blamed while the parent’s need to take more responsibility?
Eve: Absolutely, and it’s so easy to blame what’s on T.V. The television shouldn’t be raising your kids, it all starts in the home. If I had children, their are a lot of artist and videos I wouldn’t let my child listen to or look at. That’s what I’m suppose to do, I’m suppose to raise my child and explain to them why I don’t want them watching whatever. Unfortunately the problem is al lot of these kids are growing up with their parents, because a lot of these parents are young. There isn’t a separation of generation, like for instance, my mother and her mother didn’t have anything in common. My mother and I have a little in common. The gap is much smaller now then it used to be. Mothers are so young that they are into the same artist, clothes & videos as their children.
RTNY: How do you feel about the rise of Southern Hip Hop?
Eve: I think it’s good, everybody needs their time to shine. There’s a lot of that stuff I can not deal with, but that’s my personal opinion. There are some songs I just can not listen to, and there are some I really like. They have a lot of good clubs songs.
RTNY: What was your first reaction to the, “Hip Hop Is Dead,” talk from Nas.
Eve: It’s so Nas, when I heard that I was like its fitting for him to do that cause that’s Nas. Everybody that knows Nas, knows that he speaks his mind. He has been in the game long enough to be able to say it. If it was someone now coming up it would be taken differently. I kind of almost expect it from him.
RTNY: Do you feel Oprah is against hip hop?
Eve: Is she? It seems like it. I think that’s her personal opinion, there are a lot of people that don’t like Hip Hop. I don’t think she delved as deep as she could into it. Like for instance, Lauryn Hill, even though she is not out right now, she’s Hip Hop. Her stuff is all positive, Common and Talib Kweli are positive. There are a lot of good artist that are out, but unfortunately they are not as mainstream as the ignorant artist. Which makes it hard to fight that point, but I think she should dive a little deeper.
RTNY: Why do you feel positive artist don’t sell a lot usually?
Eve: It’s hard, people love controversy. People love the shock value of everything, be it a movie, music or whatever. So it’s very hard for positive artist to break their way through. I wish the positive artist could come up, but unfortunately the way of the world is to like drama.
RTNY: What are your thoughts on rappers beefing?
Eve: I think it’s ridiculous, grow up. I can’t stand it, to me it is so annoying. You know what bugs me more than the Hip Hop artist beefing, the damn producers are now beefing. Like sit down! I think people are just doing it to do it.
RTNY: Do you have a lot of friends in the industry?
Eve: I don’t on purpose, I don’t really like industry people. I don’t really hang out with entertainers. Most of my friends are just chilling, they have jobs and kids. But I do have a few acquaintances, some people who are completely down to earth and that I can definitely hang out with. I don’t have anybody that I can say is my best friend or anything like that.
RTNY: What is your current relationship status?
Eve: Single and very happy, but looking, not searching. I’m looking for honesty, someone ambitious, comfortable in their skin, and confident not cocky. Just a good person, an overall roundabout good person.
RTNY: Does your fame make it extra difficult to find someone?
Eve: It’s hard to find a person. I kind of want to be with someone in the industry. That way I don’t have to explain to them why I’m in the studio at this time, and why I’m traveling. Then its the caliber of men, there are a lot of men that feel they have to floss their possessions to try to get with you. I’m not into that at all.
RTNY: How do you feel about the rumors about you dating a white man?
Eve: Umm, I don’t care, I don’t discriminate. I was not dating a white man, but I feel people make to much of a big deal about the thought of it.
RTNY: Is there a double standard with black men and women dating out of their race?
Eve: Of course there is a double standard, I have seen it. I have been questioned by black men that I have seen be with white woman. It’s a complete double standard, it’s 2007 and there are so many other things going on.
RTNY: Do you look forward to marriage and having kids?
Eve: I really do, I can’t wait. I feel like that’s the ultimate blessing, especially having a partner in your life that you can come home too. Having kids and being able to raise a little you and teach a child. But I want it to be right, I’m not rushing it. I want it to be the right person at the right time. Twice in my life I thought I was ready. In my life I have had two strong relationships. Those two times I was like maybe, but at the end I was like thank god I didn’t marry this person. I feel like if and when I finally get married it will happen pretty quickly, I think I’ll know immediately, but maybe not, who knows?