Eve's upcoming third solo album, Eve-olution, showcases her sense of pop timing and delivery even more than the 2001 blockbuster Scorpion did. The album's first single, "Gangsta Lovin'," is another infectiously upbeat, eminently danceable track sculpted by just the right studio architect (Irv Gotti) and featuring the female guest star of the moment: Alicia Keys, who ably fills the role most memorably played by Gwen Stefani in last year's Dr. Dre-produced "Let Me Blow Ya Mind."
"I'm thrilled with it," Eve says of the track, which has held down a spot near the top of the singles charts for most of the summer. "From the first time I ever saw Alicia at a pre-Grammy party like a year and a half ago I knew that when she came out she was going to be huge," she says. "I wanted to do something with her all along, and then I got this track and I just thought, 'Who better to do it than her?'"
Eve-olution, due out August 27th, also falls almost exactly between the Philadelphia-born rapper's first two jobs on the silver screen -- the first a small part as Vin Diesel's business partner in XXX, and the next a star turn in Barbershop, which opens September 13th and also stars Ice Cube. "It just kind of happened," she says, brushing off the serendipitous timing and what must have been a maniacally busy winter and spring. "I didn't even know anything about XXX at all, they just happened to call at the right time. Then after that I took two months to do Barbershop and then went right to work on the album."
Along with Gotti, some of the other biggest names in hip-hop production -- Dre and Swizz Beatz -- cut tracks for the set, as they did for Scorpion, and Snoop, Nate Dogg and Truth Hurts also guest. "I like being familiar with people and knowing their methods," she says, "because it's more comfortable when you're in the studio. But I did work with a lot of new people on this record. Two guys from Philly and a couple guys from Watts projects my brother introduced me to that just had some hot music."
But hot music is only part of the secret to Eve's success. The rest is drive, and genuine enthusiasm for the work, even the tedious parts. "If you were with me today, you probably would have thought I was crazy to do all this," she says. "But a vacation? I won't be able to take a vacation until December. I want to do both movies and music. I could never say to myself, 'Yes, now I'm a movie star!' I love doing both, and whichever eventually calls me I'll do. But until then I don't plan on giving anything up. I'm just having a blast."