Before Eve hit the stage at Rock the Bells in San Bernardino this past Saturday at the tour's kickoff, the rapper promised Rolling Stone she was there to make an impression. "If you weren't my fan, I'm gonna make you a fan once I leave the stage," she told us. "That, to me, is exciting."
She performed a few new songs, including "She Bad Bad," from her forthcoming Lip Lock album, her first since 2002's Eve-Olution, which at the time was her third straight top 10 album. After a decade's absence from recording, during which she focused on acting (including her own sitcom, Eve), she views this new album as a rejuvenation of her career.
"I've been telling people – and this is the truth – I almost feel like a new artist myself," she said. "I'm so excited about my new music. I love performing anyway, I feel comfortable on stage. It does feel like a rebirth."
She gave Rolling Stone a preview of some of the tracks and collaborators on Lip Lock, due next year. The album features Snoop Dogg on "Mama in the Kitchen," a song produced by Swizz Beatz ("Obviously I had to have Swizz on there," she said). And Cobra Starship's Gabe Saporta appears on "Make It Out of This Town."
"He sounds amazing on it," she said. "It's a very positive record – everyone can relate to it. It's just one of those records when you're down and out and you feel like you can make it, God is with you. You have that plan – just keep your eye to the sky. It's a very positive, uplifting record."
Another of her favorites is "Eve." "It's definitely left, it's a different kind of record," she said of the song that bears her name. "I remember that day clearly just because I was exhausted and I did not want to go to the studio. And as soon as the producer put the track on I was like, 'Oh, this is fucking ridiculous, I have to write for this record.' It's like a punch in the face, but in a good way."
The fact that Eve is doing two dates with Rock the Bells – her debut on the bill – is a sign of her comeback for fans. "Obviously Rock the Bells has been around for a long time and it's a respected music festival to be on, so I definitely wanted to do it," she said. "I felt like it was the perfect time to reach my core audience."
On Saturday she performed both on her own and with longtime friend DMX, their first time onstage together in more than a decade, she guessed. For Eve, being around the mix of peers like Nas and newcomers like J. Cole was inspiring.
"The kind of artists that they pick are substantial, which makes for a great show," she said. "I'm just happy to see it all. And I do keep up with some of the newer artists that are out. I think Kendrick Lamar is amazing. He's really, really dope and doing the West Coast proud."
Though she has turned her attention back to music, she continues to do some acting, including a cameo on the NBC series Whitney. She also has a role in an upcoming independent film called Bouncy Killer. She laughed when asked about who else is in it with her. "I don't think you would know anyone who's in it," she said.
However, she was very impressed with the movie, which she described as Mad Max-esque: "It's kind of like how Mad Max was back in the day, with the makeup and all the cars. It's set in the desert, and I got to play queen of the gypsies. I had this elaborate makeup on," she said.
Most importantly, she got to "kick ass" on set, which she's never done. "I got to knife-fight, which I've never done in a movie, so that was fun," she said. "I absolutely thought that they were gonna use my double most of the time, because I didn't have any time to train. The girl who I fought had, like, three months of training, and I had two days. But because of the way the director shot they barely used my double, so I basically had to learn on set a lot of stuff. I was hurting at the end of that day, [but] it was fun. I love stuff like that."