Rapper, actress, and fashion designer
Born Eve Jihan Jeffers, November 10, 1978, in Philadelphia, PA; daughter of Jerry Jeffers (a chemical–plant supervisor) and Julie Wilcher (a medical publishing–company supervisor).
Record label —Ruff Ryder/Interscope Records, 2220 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90404. Official website — http://www.evefansonly.com .
Joined Ruff Ryder hip–hop collective, 1998; appeared on Bulworth soundtrack, 1998; appeared on compilation Ryde or Die Vol. 1, 1999; released Let There Be Eve Ruff Ryder's First Lady, 1999; released Scorpion, 2001; released Eve–Olution, 2002. Television appearances include: Third Watch, 2003; Eve, UPN, 2003—; One on One, 2004. Producer of television shows, including: Eve, 2003—. Film appearances include: XXX, 2002; Barbershop, 2002; Barbershop 2, 2004; The Woodsman, 2004; The Cookout, 2004. Debuted fashion line, 2003.
Video music award for best female video (with Gwen Stefani), MTV, for "Let Me Blow Ya Mind," 2001; Grammy award for best rap/sung collaboration (with Gwen Stefani), Recording Academy, for "Let Me Blow Ya Mind," 2002.
One of the most successful women in hip–hop, Eve rode her connection with the Ruff Ryders rap collective to quick stardom. Her music and persona
Eve was born to a single mother and grew up in housing projects in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She went through her teenage years without seeing her father and has said she has no relationship with him now. As a kid, she toured Philadelphia talent shows in the all–girl singing group Dope Girl Posse, but switched to rapping at the age of 13. "I did any talent show, ever," she told Rolling Stone 's Touré. "Anytime they [were having] one, I was there. If I won last week, [I'd be] back." She and her friend, Jennifer Pardue, performed as the rap duo Edjp (which stood for Eve of Destruction Jenny–Poo and was pronounced Egypt) as teenagers. They recorded an album, which helped cement Eve's interest in a music career.
After graduating from high school, Eve dedicated herself to breaking into the music business and began auditioning for a record deal, while working at a record store in Philadelphia and, briefly, at a strip club in New York City (an experience she will not talk about in interviews anymore). "I didn't want to have a regular life—have a baby, get a boyfriend, get married. I just wanted to do things," she told Christian Wright in Allure. Her backup plan was to become a makeup artist, but hitting it big in the music world made that unnecessary.
When she was only 18 years old, hip–hop icon Dr. Dre signed her to his label, Aftermath. Eve moved to Los Angeles, California, and adopted the stage name Eve of Destruction. However, eight months later, Aftermath dropped her, and she returned to Philadelphia, although a song she recorded for the label did end up on the Bulworth soundtrack in 1998. Fortunately, Eve met rap star DMX, who introduced her to the Ruff Ryders, a collective of producers and rappers based in New York. They made her audition on the spot. "They just put a beat on and said, 'All right, yo, let her spit,'" she told Rolling Stone 's Touré. "I said rhymes I had written for Dre. If I [had] failed that, I don't know where I'd be now." Instead, she impressed the Ruff Ryders, and they took her in as their only female member. "They made me write and recite, write and recite," Eve told Newsweek's Lorraine Ali. "It was like boot camp. You had to prove yourself to them, and that's what made me a better MC."
Eve's song "What Y'all Want" appeared on the Ruff Ryders' top–selling compilation Ryde or Die Vol. 1, and she guested on The Roots' "You Got Me" and on "Girlfriend/Boyfriend" with Janet Jackson and Blackstreet to build buzz. Her first album, Let There Be Eve Ruff Ryder's First Lady, released in late 1999, debuted at number one—making her one of the few female rappers to accomplish that feat—and sold more than two million copies. Touré, reviewing the album in Rolling Stone, described her as having "an oven–roasted voice, smooth flows and a thuggish attitude for days." The album ranged from drinking and partying anthems to a fantasy about taking revenge on a friend's abusive boyfriend ("Love Is Blind") to her father's absence and her youthful attraction to older men: "Didn't have a daddy/So I put a daddy in his space," she rapped on "Heaven Only Knows."
Mostly produced by Ruff Ryder member Swizz Beatz, the debut album featured the Ryders' tough, fast signature sound. The press responded by endlessly repeating her self–description as a "pit bull in a skirt." Actually, she was striking a balance compared to other female rappers. "It established her persona—sexy but not pornographic, in your face but somewhat introspective," wrote Christopher John Farley in Time, while Newsweek 's Ali described her as "playing as tough as the boys, but with a stealthy female elegance. She walks the fine line between the empowering, old–school style of Queen Latifah and the trashy titillation of Lil' Kim." She took pride in being an independent woman. "I don't need a man to support me or keep me happy," she told Interview 's Vivien Goldman. Her blond hair, which she had bleached since high school, added to her striking image, though she would later dye it red and bright pink, among other colors.
Her second album, Scorpion, with tracks produced by Stephen and Damian Marley and her then–boyfriend Stevie J, was released in 2001. Dre produced two songs on the album, to help mend fences. Rolling Stone 's Arion Berger gave it three stars, but complained that her rhymes were "endless old–school sass with no point deeper than striking a pose." Time 's Farley also had a mixed reaction: "Her rapping is more controlled and confident, though she sometimes sacrifices coherence for rhythm, spouting half–thoughts and sentence fragments just to keep her flow going." But the album also included a more creative mix of music, including reggae and Latin horns, and she let down her guard for the hurt of "Life Is So Hard," which she called her favorite song on the album, a soulful duet with R&B singer Teena Marie. "I think it's a good balance of the hard core from the first album and the artist I wanna become as I get older," she told Newsweek 's Ali. "Before, the lyrics were mine, but the vision was pretty much [the Ruff Ryders']. Like, there was a song about a heist that was totally the guys' idea. After that, I promised myself I would never make a song about shooting, robbing, anything like that, 'cause it's not me."
Scorpion (named after Eve's astrological sign, Scorpio) went gold within two months, and in the summer of 2001 she toured with R&B group Destiny's Child, pop singer Jessica Simpson, and rapper Nelly on MTV's TRL (Total Request Live) tour. Touré's Rolling Stone profile caught her enjoying her fame and the fortune that followed it: it described Eve and Stevie J driving around Manhattan in Eve's gold BMW, Eve buying diamond rings, earrings, and a necklace worth a total of $100,000, and Eve's accountant, Horace Madison, making her sign a "stupid letter" acknowledging that too many purchases like that could wreck her finances. By this time, the 22–year–old already had a house in New Jersey, a retirement plan, and an portfolio of investments. "From a financial–stability standpoint, Eve's ahead of 85 percent of people in the urban–music business right now," Madison told Touré.
Eve had no reason to worry about her future. Scorpion 's second single, "Let Me Blow Ya Mind," her duet with Gwen Stefani of No Doubt, became her biggest success; it won an MTV Video Music Award in 2001 and a Grammy award in 2002. Near the end of 2001, Eve raved to Rolling Stone 's Mark Binelli about meeting Courtney Love, and her description of Love could easily work as a description of herself: "She's just raw. She just is who she is, period. She doesn't care, doesn't bite her tongue." Another sign of Eve's success was her entourage; by the summer of 2002, reported Newsweek 's Ali, Eve was traveling with five handlers: a publicist, hairstylist, makeup artist, clothing stylist, and bodyguard.
Eve described her next album, 2002's Eve–olution, as more melodic. It featured more neo–soul singing mixed in with the raps. She told Newsweek 's Ali that she was listening to reggae and rock more than rap. "I don't listen to a lot of hip–hop anymore because I can't respect it," she added, saying she was tired of hearing her peers rap about guns and selling drugs. But she still considered herself a rapper. "I do enjoy singing, but I'm not a singer," she told Rory Evans in Teen People. "I would never try to hit notes. I'm not Brandy, Monica or Alicia [Keys]. I can hold a note and that's good enough." Still, she did include Keys as a new duet partner, on the album's first single, "Gangsta Lovin.'" She explained to Entertainment Weekly 's Tom Sinclair, "Gangsta is just slang that we use for something that's good, or something we love or something that's hot."
The same year, Eve broke into acting with a supporting role in the Vin Diesel action flick XXX and a star turn with fellow rapper Ice Cube and controversial comic Cedric the Entertainer in the successful comedy Barbershop, filmed in an actual Chicago barbershop. She spent a week in barber school to prepare for the movie. Her UPN television series, Eve, debuted in late 2003. "Never, ever in my wildest dreams could I have imagined doing this," she told Margena A. Christian in Jet. "My basic overall goal is to be successful and happy. This is just something that's a bonus." Eve plays a fashion designer living in Miami named Shelly Williams, and the show focuses on Shelly's search for love and the advice she receives from her friends. The show, which had a working title of The Opposite Sex, was written for a white actress, then revamped and renamed for her.
Reviews were mostly terrible. "The good news is, it's only 30 minutes long," wrote the Hollywood Reporter 's Ray Richmond. "The star, while sexy, isn't much of an actress, and the writing is lazy and obvious," wrote Terry Kelleher in People, who was irritated by the show's predictable take on relationship issues. But the program's ratings took off after a brief lull, and UPN ordered a full season of the show. Meanwhile, Eve starred in the sequel Barbershop 2: Back in Business, released in early 2004.
Though she started out looking tomboyish, Eve has embraced fashion and shown off a more feminine look in more recent videos. People named her one of the magazine's 50 most beautiful people in 2003. "There is almost no one else who can pull off just about every hair color imaginable and pair those signature paw print tattoos on her chest with an Alexander McQueen gown," wrote Julee Greenberg in the fashion publication WWD. Eve debuted her own sportswear line for young women, Fetish, in the fall of 2003. She appeared in a Victoria's Secret fashion show that November, where People 's Steven Cojocaru reported that she "insisted on being covered from head to toe in Francesca Guerrera's Sunset Bronze Loose Powder." Interviewers often find her chatting about her two Yorkshire terriers, Spunky and Bear.
Eve has also filmed a dark movie with Kevin Bacon called The Woodsman, about a pedophile trying to resurrect his career. But she insists acting will not take her away from recording. "I miss my music," she told Christian in Jet. "I miss the world. I do love the stability of acting, but it becomes monotonous after awhile." She planned to enter the studio in the spring of 2004 to record an album for the following fall. However, she did not plan on being a recording star forever. "I don't want to be with a record label for the rest of my life," she told Allure. "Music is the loneliest business. It makes you feel much older than you are. I could live without being in the spotlight. I want to know that when I'm 30, I can settle down if I want to."
Bulworth (soundtrack), Interscope Records, 1998. (Contributor) Ryde or Die Vol. 1, Ruff Ryder Records, 1999.
Let There Be Eve Ruff Ryder's First Lady, Ruff Ryder/Interscope Records, 1999.
Scorpion, Ruff Ryder/Interscope Records, 2001.
Eve–Olution, Ruff Ryder/Interscope Records, 2002.
Allure, July 2003, pp. 158–61, p. 164.
Daily Variety, November 12, 2003, p. A1.
Entertainment Weekly, March 9, 2001, p. 78; September 20, 2002.
Hollywood Reporter, January 16, 2003, p. 50; September 15, 2003, p. 18.
Interview, November 2000, p. 155.
Jet, April 9, 2001, p. 58; November 10, 2003, p. 60.
Newsweek, March 12, 2001, p. 70; September 2, 2002, p. 61.
People, March 19, 2001, p. 41; September 23, 2002, p. 204; May 12, 2003, p. 149; November 17, 2003, p. 38; December 15, 2003, p. 144; February 16, 2004, p. 27.
Rolling Stone, October 14, 1999, p. 119–120; March 29, 2001, p. 64; July 5, 2001, pp. 58–60; December 6, 2001, p. 124.
Teen People, December 1, 2002, p. 88.
Time, March 19, 2001, p. 74; September 2, 2002, p. 70.
Variety, September 1, 2003, p. S18.
WWD, June 19, 2003, p. 1; August 27, 2003, p. 5; September 4, 2003, p. 20B.
"Eve," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&uid=UIDSUB04031213155321 342&sql=B5m5tk6ax9kr0 (March 6, 2004).
"Eve," Internet Movie Database, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1073992/ (March 7, 2004).
"Rock on the Net: MTV Video Music Awards 2001," http://www.rockonthenet.com/archive/2001/mtvvmas.htm (March 6, 2004).
— Erick Trickey