Even before she released her debut, Eve: Ruff Ryders’ First Lady, Eve was a ghetto superstar. With her cameos on the Roots’ “You Got Me” and Blackstreet’s “Girlfriend/Boyfriend”; her own smash single, “What You Want”; and her membership in DMX’s Ruff Ryders, Eve has had the streets salivating for her solo bum rush since last year. And as she sits in a courtyard in mid-town Manhattan, the streets come to her: A trio of Puerto Rican B-boys rolls up for autographs, a fashion stylist comes over to gush, and a middle-aged white woman tells her, “I’ve never seen a celebrity so nice to their fans! Are you famous?”
It’s all one heady trip for the 20-year-old Philly rapper, who was dancing in a Bronx strip club two years ago and now does kung fu kicks in Sprite commercials. But as Eve proves on First Lady, in which she goes head-to-head with DMX and Missy Elliott, can’t nobody hold her down.
Your bleached-blond hair is your trademark.
It was a dare. I had cut my hair off, and one of my friends in school was like, “You should bleach your hair. “And I was like, “My mom would kill me if I did that!” And when I first did it, it came out like cinnamon toast.
What do women think?
God, lesbians love me! For real, yo! I have to be telling them I have a man.
Where did your claw tattoos come from?
Another dare. I wanted some claws somewhere. and my friend Princess was like, “Get ’em on your chest!” And I was like, “What?” But I went and did it. Now it represents that I’m the bitch of my litter. A lot of people say, “That’s a sexy tattoo.”
You take a lot of dares. What should I dare you to do?
I’ll do anything.
OK, let’s play hip-hop “Love Connection.”Q-Tip vs. Snoop Dogg?
Oh, that’s hard. Q-Tip’s cute, but I’m always going to steer toward the thug – I need the excitement. And I like dogs. I can’t help it!
Barry White vs. Eminem?
Eminem. I would really like to experience his world. Plus, I’ve never been with a white boy, and I would like to one day. But it would have to be a crazy white boy — and he’s crazy! With our blond hair, we’re like twins.
Tell me about your time as a stripper.
Oh, God — do you have to ask? Rappers talk about drug dealing before they made it and it’s not a big thing, but me stripping is? Come on. That was a hustle, too; there’s a song about it on my album, “Heaven Only Knows.” But I don’t regret it — I was eighteen and confused, going through personal problems. I did it for about a month, and I was glad I did it. It helped me find Eve, helped me get serious. It was depressing — a lot of those girls have three or four kids. I’d sit there and be like, “Eve, you don’t belong here, this is not your world.”
What did you learn about men?
[Softly] That they can be totally disgusting toward women.
What are the struggles in the hip-hop game right now?
Whoo! To be accepted as a female as an MC. That’s always going to be it. It’s like, “Eve can rhyme, but look at her ass.”
Before you were a Ruff Ryder, you were signed to Dr. Dre’s Aftermath label. What happened?
Aftermath president Michael Lynn came to Philly to meet my managers. They were like, “Do you want to audition for this guy?” So I walk in, and he thought I was the weed girl.
The weed girl?
He thought he was buying weed from me! Anyway, I start rapping and he’s like, “Why is the weed girl rapping?” I thought I was never going to see that guy again. But then he signed me, but it just wasn’t the right situation. I know people are saying, “Dre, why did you let her go?” But there’s no love lost. It was a learning experience.
How long are you gonna be in the rap game?
As long as people still want to hear me. But I want to break into so many other things: movies, management, production. Acting I know I could do – ’cause I’m acting like I like you right now!
I’m just playing.