It's 9 p.m. on a Thursday night and Eve has just finished a long day of rehearsals, though you'd never know it by looking at her. Sitting in the plush, all-white living room of her Los Angeles home, she has more pressing issues on her mind than. "Peanut Chew!," she squeals when someone presents her with a molasses-coated candy bar, happily explaining that the treat reminds her of growing up in Philadelphia. "I'm saving this for a special moment."
Luckily, Eve has plenty of special moments on the horizon. When we meet, she's just three weeks away from the start of her upcoming US tour with Gwen Stefani, which kicks off July 9 in San Diego, CA. Though it's been three years since her last full-length LP, the rapper-cum-actress and entrepreneur has been plenty busy of late, most notably reprising her role as Terri in this year's third Barbershop film The Next Cut and, yes, working on new music. Though she's coy when asked about the state of her next album, she alludes to the studio with a sparkle in here eye.
If a new Eve record is indeed in the works, it will come at the ideal time. Coming up as the lone female member of the DMX-helmed Ruff Ryders crew, Eve helped pave the way for countless women working to break into hip-hop. Working alongside Missy Elliot and vying for chart titles with Lauryn Hill, she was part of a movement that not only changed the dialogue, but changed the face of rap as we knew it. Then 2001's Scorpion dropped. Anchored by lead single "Who's That Girl" and her inescapable duet with Gwen Stefani, "Let Me Blow Ya Mind," the album pushed Eve from hip-hop royalty to mainstream success story. All these years later, the Stefani-Eve reunion feels beautifully fated, a testament to the staying power of their work and their friendship, and proof that both are more than ready to blow our minds again.
You've been friends with Gwen Stefani for a long time. What was your first impression of her?
We met over the phone. I wanted to get her on "Let Me Blow Ya Mind" and I was so excited. I wanted to talk to her—I needed to talk to her! But we didn't meet face-to-face until we did the video.
Since then you've reached a pretty special level of friendship. I've heard you've thrown dance parties together, including a few in laundry rooms.
That's hilarious. I honestly haven't thought about that in ages. There was a party in a big house and me and Gwen just wanted to have a moment. I don't understand why we chose to go into the laundry room. We danced and talked and danced and spent most of the party in the laundry room. Nothing freaky happened! It was all music.
Does that chemistry transfer over to when you're writing together?
Yeah. I've never actually written with any other female, ever. Going in with Gwen was so easy. I was scared because we didn't really know each other at first and sometimes females can be catty. Honestly, it was one of easiest sessions I've ever had.
I never want people to be like, "Oh she's good for a girl."
In your experience, how does writing with men compare to women? What does it take to hang in rap's boys club?
You have to wear a lot of hats. You have to find a balance. You have to be feminine and celebrate your femininity, but you have to be strong. You have to make them respect you and you have to keep it. That's the most important part: You must respect me not just as a woman, but as a peer. I never want people to be like, "Oh she's good for a girl." I want to kill all y'all. I want to be the best, and that takes a lot.
What's the craziest thing that's happened during your time with Ruff Ryders?
Ruff Ryders days were always crazy and amazing and incredible. I always say Ruff Ryders was hip-hop boot camp. I had to be better than dudes that were writing in the studio every night, if not equal. If we had a battle in Harlem on the corner, I had to kill it. If it was a battle in the studio, I had to kill it. There were a lot of battles! It was a battle for your life, seriously. But I loved it. Ruff Ryders are going to be family forever. If it weren't for Ruff Ryders, I wouldn't be where I am now.
Who are some of your favorite lyricists?
Lauryn Hill, Nas, Tupac, Jadakiss, Biggie, and Kendrick Lamar
Tell me about your experience working with Dr. Dre.
Dre gets on my nerves--but in the best way. Dre will push me to the point of anger. There were times when I was like, "I'm done, I'm going home." "No you're not, you have to finish the song," he'd say. I'd be like, "No, I don't. I'm going home. I'm tired." He'd be like, "If you don't finish the song tonight, I'm not going back into the studio." It would be out of laziness that I wouldn't want to finish the song. I wouldn't want to write the hook, whatever. He knew how to push me. And every time he pushed me, I made some of the best records of my life: "Let Me Blow Ya Mind," "Satisfaction." It was like shadowboxing with Dre. But that's why he's one of the greatest. The godfather, really.
Do you remember the first time you felt like you were a role model for other people?
Role model is such a heavy phrase. I didn't get into music thinking, "I'm going to be a role model." One time an article came out in a magazine where I revealed a lot of stuff I did in my past. It was one of my biggest articles. I had a friend call me and say, "There's this young girl in Philly and she told her mom, 'Eve did it, so I'm trying to do it.' Her mom was freaking out." I remember being like, "That's not why I put that in the article! I put it in the article so you can learn what I did." I went back home for a show in Philly and I had a conversation with that girl about why I revealed what I revealed. In that moment, I was like, what you say, what you do, affects so many other people than you can ever think. I learned that you think you might be getting something off your chest, but it can go another way.
How did you start working with the Malaika charity?
I read about the charity randomly and sent a DM to one of the founders on Instagram because I loved her message and I love what they stand for. Before I decided to take on the charity, I flew to the Congo to make sure it was all legit. And it is. It's one of the best environments I've ever seen for young girls and young women and education. They do a beautiful, beautiful thing. So it's such an honor for me to be part of the charity.
What do you think your younger self would think of the career you've created?
She'd be like, "Damn, you did that?" [Laughs] Honestly, she'd be so happy. When I first started doing music I thought I was only going to do one album. That's all I wanted—one album and I'd be happy. So I think Eve from high school would be very happy.
If you had to put something crazy on your rider, what would it be?
Fuzzy slippers for everybody, just because fuzzy slippers are amazing. I don't care who you are or what you think. And Tastykake! It would be so wrong for the diet, but that has to happen. I'd want candles everywhere—but that's actually on the rider! I don't like ridiculous shit for no fucking reason. I'm not that person. As long as I'm happy and shit is good... and you've got my fucking 16 green M&Ms. [Laughs] I'm kidding!