A LONG TIME AGO
Born Eve Jihan Jeffers in 1979, rap’s first lady was raised in the projects of West Philadelphia. A student of violin for two years, ballet for about three, and piano briefly, by age seven she was a model, due to the influence of her mother, who took part in local fashion shows. A year later, she was a model student, winning school prizes for her short stories, plays, and poems. Eve aspired to be neither supermodel nor scholar, however, wanting, instead, to be a makeup artist, because “they take a real messed-up person and make them look incredible,” she says. In ninth grade, searching for something more substantial than hair and cosmetics, it was then that she discovered Islam.
“I worship God,” she says, revealing little about her professed distrust of organized religion. Then she elaborates: “Religion and worship are two different things to me. Religion is by the book. I think too many people rely on the textbook: OK, it says to do this and it says to do that, so if I do this, this, and that, then I still can go out and do wrong because I did this, this, and that.
“God is my best friend,” she continues. “I talk to God every day. And no one can tell me how to talk to God, not no imam, not no priest, not no rabbi, no pastor.”
I talk to God every day. And no one can tell me how to talk to God, not no imam, not no priest, not no rabbi, no pastor.
She talks to her mother daily.
A SPECIFIC TIME IN THE QUASI-DISTANT PAST
It’s August 1999 and Eve is preparing to release her debut album, Ruff Ryders’ First Lady (which would go on to sell more than two million copies). In a midtown Manhattan hotel suite, she talks about her past groups—a female quintet called DGP (Dope Girl Posse) that covered R&B hits, and a duo with fellow female rapper Jenny-Poo called EDJP—and waxes philosophical beyond her years about her eight-month stint on Dr. Dre’s Aftermath label.
“[The label] wasn’t ready for me at the time,” she says. “I think Aftermath was taking on too many projects and didn’t know what direction they wanted to take those projects in. I’m happy that they weren’t ready because I wasn’t ready to come out. I’ve learned more about the type of music I want to make and the type of person I am.”
She’s also pretty clear on where she wants to go with her career. “I don’t wanna be known as just a hip-hop artist,” she declares. “I wanna take it to a whole ’nother level. By next year, I want to be doing something with Hole and No Doubt.”
In 2002, Eve and No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani would win a Grammy for “Let Me Blow Ya Mind.”