Still only 23 years old, Eve is making life choices that promise to take her beyond the multiplatinum sales and the Grammys. With the launch of her own clothing line and a budding acting career, the next step for rap's first lady is all about Eve-olution

This feature originally appeared in Complex's September/October 2002 issue. 

RIGHT NOW

At Studio A of Pier 59 Studios at New York’s Chelsea Piers, Interscope recording artist Eve is undergoing the beautification process. It’s a grueling affair that warrants a virtual coalition to achieve what is ostensibly one goal: to make shorty look good for a magazine cover shoot to support her upcoming third album, Eve-olution. Aside from the photography crew, there’s a publicist, a clothes stylist, a hair stylist, a makeup artist, a personal assistant, and someone whose job seems to be keeping the lipstick at room temperature. And damn-near everyone has an assistant, an intern, or some other majordomo on call.

Which is not to say that they haven’t got their work cut out for them. To see them in action is like watching a swarm of hornets buzzing from one point to the next—some going here, moving this, protecting that, coordinating on this cell phone, talking about that album. Others doing God-knows-what inside a makeshift dressing room fashioned in one corner of the studio from black drapes. Eve will later reveal that much of it amounts to (surprise) “bullshitting”—something that a quick peek into the no-man zone will confirm. 

But, even bullshitting (which, it turns out, involves Eve sitting with eyes closed being attended to by no less than three—hair, face, nails—people) is time consuming. So glimpses of the day’s center-of-gravity are fleeting—like catching the Pope walking around the Vatican. Look, there she is in her long white robe, running across the studio. Look, there she is, smiling and skipping around in too-long pants like a child playing dress-up. And look, now, she’s finally ready.

And when she’s ready, she’s beautiful. Even more beautiful than the pictures you’re looking at suggest. More beautiful than her videos let on. She doesn’t glow so much as pulse, radiating such energy that no amount of cosmetics or styling could enhance it. Rather, Eve’s beauty is only amplified by her professionalism in front of the camera: She’s businesslike; bored but not upset; kinda complacent, yet pliable to the lensman’s whims. As she sits on the hood of the car, she leans over this way, then that, sticking one foot in the air, bending over, accentuating her buttocks. 

Until…the witching hour, by which time she’s tired and drained but still alchemizing the fatigue into sexy come-hither pouts. Sure, Eve should be cursing her lot in life, but she’s not; she’s not stupid. Nonetheless, she wants to go home, take care of her two Yorkshire Terriers, and maybe cook up some egg whites on the George Foreman grill. Seriously, it’s, like, 1 a.m. and all day she’s been primping, priming, and posing for pictures. She wants to back out of the interview. 

SOME RANDOM TIME IN THE QUASI-DISTANT PAST

Eve is at a party aboard the Spirit Of Boston cruise ship, docked in Boston Harbor. If memory serves, it’s some sort of Roc-A-Fella afterparty. She comes through with a small army—smaller than the one she would have at a photo shoot in the way that, say, Al Qaeda is smaller than the U.S. military. The crowd parts before her, then stops and stares, sort of like bowling pins that don’t get knocked down, just repositioned. Even the way-too-cool guys, aspiring ballers, and assorted thugs; even the pigeons, the fly girls—everyone with breath gives her props. She’s respected in the way that Mary, or maybe even Alicia, is, but not Ashanti or Foxy or Kim. And it’s easy to see why.

Eve is the most credible and gimmick-free female rapper since MC Lyte. Tender like a Roni but harder than a jawbreaker; sexy but not coquettish. Dressed to the nines in pointy-toed stilettos and high-end fashion, she’s chic and stylish—haute without being haughty. Walking with crowds and keeping her virtue; talking with kings without losing the common touch. She’s not just the rapper that guys want to take home, she’s the one they want to take home to meet mom and their boys.

Still, Foxy Brown was recently quoted in XXL writing Eve off as someone who “says nothing.” Eve can’t be bothered to respond in print, but the truth is, Eve does talk about nothing. She talks about the nothings that girls talk about when they get together: subtle power struggles within male-female relationships; how much she loves her man; what she had to do to that dude who put his hands on her girl; what she had to do to her man when she found out the nigga was still fucking with his babymoms; why she can’t talk to some of the other girls that she used to talk to.

She’s not talking about cutting keys in the kitchen or stuffing white in her vagina in motel bathrooms. She’s not about popping bottles or coochie or going full throttle on her V. And for a self-proclaimed clothes horse who’s switched hairstyles and colors only slightly less than Lil’ Kim, she’s not bragging about the things on her back. 

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