Acting like a girl, dog, acting like a broad
In a world where female icons are, like L’il Kim‘s undergarments, few and far between, Eve occupies an enviably high-profile position. An ex-stripper and the ‘First Lady’ of Philadelphia’s Rough Ryders collective, she matches Missy in her ability to render gender irrelevant while keeping her sexuality front and centre in her hip-hop campaign. It’s an attitude that becomes clearest in a throwaway skit six tracks into ‘Eve-Olution’, where Eve attacks a jealous, whining lover with the words [I]”you’re acting like a girl, dog, you’re acting like a broad.”[/I] Coming from a woman, that’s either deeply unsisterly or the mark of a “broad” isn’t afraid to call it like she sees it. And when it comes to righteousness, Eve has 20/20 vision.
That’s not to say that her third album is nothing but a display of hip-hop muscle – one minute Eve‘s a “savage bitch”, the next she’s gloopily announcing “this track’s for the kids”. She uses her supporting cast of stars – Dre, Snoop– in the same way as Marilyn used male dancers in ‘Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend’, a pink satin superstar alongside her grey-suited drones. It’s this combination of square-cut-or-pear-shaped attitude and winning vulnerability that makes ‘Eve-Olution’ shine.
Admittedly, too much of the album is little more than high-gloss, mainstream hip-hop but even when it sounds like nothing that couldn’t share a nice bottle of Chardonnay with Beyonce – the marshmallowy Alicia Keys collaboration ‘Gangsta Love’, the Save-The-Children philosophising of ‘As I Grow’ – Eve spits out a line that sets things straight. “I wanted to love you til the end of time / but fuck it, I’m done with you at the end of this line” she shrugs on break-up hit ‘Let It Go’, while she trumps Snoop‘s toxic drawl on the prescription-pad groove of ‘Hey Y’All’ with her bitter, biting delivery. The weirder it gets, the better – ‘Irresistible Bitch’, paced by the suburban-swingers’ ping of an electronic doorbell; the kitchen syncopation of ‘Double R What’; the title track’s dank electro dungeon, tightly bound by a chant of “Eve! Eve!” like a good night in the Temple Of Doom.
Despite the mutant promise of the title, ‘Eve-Olution’ is hardly startling. Yet as proof that mainstream hip-hop can still learn new tricks, it’s a success. Acting like a girl, dog, acting like a broad.