A rare NME ten-out-of-ten for this killer album from hip-hop vixen Eve, featuring DMX, Dre and Gwen Stefani...
A few days after the recent [I]NME[/I] hip-hop special hit the streets and .COM posted some exclusive samples of ‘Scorpion’ online, we received an e-mail from a prominent mover in the dance game. It simply read: “Eve! OH! MY! GOD!”
You, too, will be devastated.
‘Scorpion’ begins with Eve declaring: “Y’all niggas think this is a fuckin’ game!!!”. She then sets about bursting the seams of the gangstress role established by her US chart-topping ‘Let There Be…’ LP, rushing a ghetto hit into your safe suburban home. With a sigh like a knife between the ribs, she seduces pop, reggae, rap and R&B, turns them to mush at her feet, enslaves them to her rhythm, then, just like that, drops ‘Who’s That Girl? (Main Pass)’, the gonna-be Riot GucciGrrrl smash hit that delivers this prophecy with the absolute confidence of fact: “Little boys hang me on their walls growing chest hair/Why you listening to the other shit?/You got the best here…”
No point in fucking around. ‘Scorpion’ is the strongest, sexiest, most determined, focused, joyful and inspirational album you’ll hear this year.
Ladies, this one’s for you.
The killer weapon in Eve’s arsenal is her sexuality. Listening to ‘Scorpion’, it’s no coincidence that she was once, for a short time, a stripper. She wears her sex so upfront it’s scary, forcefully raising – and settling – the age-old conundrum of who’s exploiting who – the voyeur or the stripper? Eve’s in control, ain’t no doubt about it. Call her a bitch, she’ll call you a dog. “All men are dogs” she once said. “I can train a dog”. And ‘Scorpion”s got ’em sniffing, barking and howling all around her back door. ‘You Had Me, You Lost Me’ dumps the traditional weepy ballad on its wimpy ass. When the dude walks out for another squeeze, this chick doesn’t dissolve into self-pity. She brags like a brat in the schoolyard: “Nah nah nah nah nah nah… you fucked around… now you’re feeling sad”.
She won’t give it up for cars or furs or jewels or fame-by-proxy. She’s seen her sisters prostitute themselves into subservient positions. ‘You Ain’t Getting None’ explores the temptations – the bit on the side, the game played out between the hard snarl of the hood gang-girl in the verses, and the melting compliant babe of the chorus.
Every song on ‘Scorpion’ is a street drama demanding high rotation radio. Eve ropes in DMX, Lox, Da Brat, Dre, even Gwen Stefani to people the scenes while Swizz Beats do for her what The Neptunes did for Kelis, creating a clean, bright, svelte, diamond-hard setting for her verbal rocks. She even gets the Marley boys Damian and Stephen in to make the dancehall classic ‘No, No, No’ into her own personal property.
Most of all, ‘Scorpion’ is a powerplay.
“Eve don’t give a fuck about you/Dat’s what it is/Eve is the hardest bitch/Dat’s what it is/But she’s gon’ stay ladylike…” So goes The Lox and Drag-On in ‘Thug In The Street’ and so goes this album. Success, respect, fame, riches, the world… all on her own terms or it don’t mean shit. Makes Madonna sound like Myleene Popstar.
As the OTT R&B gospel belter ‘Life Is So Hard’ declares, Eve riding the devotional rush with Teena Marie: “Whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger”. Eve set out to carve herself a role the equal of any and she has totally succeeded. And more. ‘Scorpion’ is the stuff of superheroes. It will annihilate all your preconceptions. You’d better Saddam and Eve it, boy. It is, as they say, the absolute fucking bomb.