When Eve talks about her dogs spunky and Bear, she doesn’t mean her dawgs – she’s got two pet Yorkies. “I’m such a nerd with my dogs,” the twenty-two-year-old rapper-singer says. “They’re my babies.” Spunky and Bear live with Eve’s mom in Philadelphia while Eve is traveling – which is most of the time now that her excellently funky third solo album, Eve-olution, is out. It features production by both Dr. Dre and Irv Gotti, a cameo by Alicia Keys on “Gangsta Lovin’,” and lyrics such as “Tired of my voice? Plug ya ears/Outrageous by choice? Love the stares.” Following in the footsteps of her favorite rapper, Tupac Shakur, Eve has also started acting, with a leading role in Barbershop. “Actually, my biggest inspiration’s Will Smith, because he’s from Philly,” she says. “Wow, I would love to be Will. I’d love to have his bank account.”
Do you play any instruments?
I played the violin in fourth and fifth grade. I loved it, but the only thing I knew how to play was “Baa Baa Black Sheep.” Then I got into junior high, and there were boys.
If someone gave you a violin now, could you make any noise with it?
Oh, yeah, it’d be noise. That’s it.
What was the first record you ever bought?
N.W.A, Straight Outta Compton. I was eight or nine. I couldn’t tell my mom I was listening to it, and I had to hide it in somebody else’s room.
Your first live show?
Shabba Ranks, when I was twelve. He was the bomb. Me and my girlfriend, we had patchwork braids down to our ass. My stepdad took us and made sure nobody made a move on us. Which we hated. We’re telling him, “Move back! Get away!”
When you first started rapping, did you practice with other people’s songs?
I practiced with my own original stuff. The beat that I used in high school was “Shook Ones,” by Mobb Deep. I would write rhyme after rhyme after rhyme to that beat. I couldn’t use any of that stuff now. It didn’t have any meat and potatoes. It was just battle raps.
What’s the secret of success in a battle rap?
You have to make people feel offended. If people take it personal, you’ve won.
Who’s your favorite rapper of all time?
Tupac Shakur. I wish he was still here, man. I’m just really curious about the kind of music he would have made. Him and Biggie. I think the rap game would be totally different if they were both still alive.
What’s good music in the morning?
I’m always so late in the morning, I don’t have time to put anything on. I love reggae any time of the day.
Was there an album you played so much you had to retire it?
I do that all the time. Right now, there are only three CDs in my Range Rover: [Snoop Dogg’s] Doggystyle, [Dr. Dre’s] The Chronic 2001 and [Aretha Franklin’s] Lady Soul. I get obsessed with a CD and I’m too lazy to put something new in, so I just play it over and over and over. But after a while, I know every single sound. I’m so sick of Snoop. I mean, I love Snoop, but if I listen to this shit one more time…
What’s an album you love that would surprise people?
The Beatles’ 1 album, with all the Number One hits. A year and a half ago, somebody introduced me to the album, and I was like, “Oh, shit, that’s kind of hot. Do I like the Beatles? I can’t like the Beatles!” And then, fuck it, I bought the album. You can’t deny good music.
If your music had a smell, what would that smell be?
It would smell like me. I wear this perfume, Floret, and people will say, “Yo, I smelled you down the hall.” It’s really pretty – flowers and fruit. But it’s not sickening sweet, it’s tasty. I think people go, “Mmmm. I want some of that.”
At what time of day do you write?
I usually go in the studio between four and six and stay until four in the morning. I like to write in the studio; I get distracted anywhere else. If I’m in my house, I’ll watch TV. If I’m in the studio, I ignore my two-way, I ignore my phone.
Tell me what the difference is between Irv Gotti and Dr. Dre in the studio.
Dre comes in and out, but you feel the presence. Irv is really good about giving you a little more room. Dre just doesn’t care. He’s right there, and he likes to be involved in the writing process. He won’t tell you what to write, but he’ll suggest. If he doesn’t like a word or a couple of bars, he’ll say, “No, write that over. You can come up with something hotter than that.”
So I heard your appearance on MTV2 with Courtney Love was a strange situation.
Yeah, [whispers] Courtney’s crazy. But I love Courtney. We go out clubbing when we can. We get loud, get in people’s faces. I’m the calmer one.
I’m guessing there aren’t too many people in the world you’re the calmer one with.
No, I’m an angel! Other people might say no, but I’ll say yes.