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Eve | The Process

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Peter Rosenberg:

Welcome to The Process. My name is Peter Rosenberg, and I'm very excited about our guest today, she is the queen of Ruff Ryders, Eve. She's had an incredible career, starting out as the only female emcee in the Ruff Ryder crew, transitioning all the way, singer, actress, so much more. Today, we talk to Eve. So we're going to start way back in the day, to a time and a place that, I'll be honest, I don't even remember this time. Research has told me about this time.

Eve:

Oh, God, what time is this then?

Peter:

The Dope Girl Posse.

Eve:

Wow, you went way back. How'd you go back that far?

Peter:

Let's go all the way back. Was this the beginning of you as a writer, or did it start even before that?

Eve:

Before Dope Girl Posse, I always wrote poetry, like I used to get awards and stuff for it from Kindergarten until third or fourth grade. Then I met the girls, and then we became a group.

Peter:

Was there ever birch?

Eve:

No, I wish. It would've been fucking scrunchy socks, though, and overalls.

Peter:

Exactly. One strap down? So what was it like, your initial experiences writing . . .

Eve:

Yeah.

Peter:

. . .either poetry or maybe even transitioning from poetry to where you started saying, "No, this is going to be a rap."

Eve:

Going from writing poetry into knowing I wanted to do hip hop was easy, but what's crazy is it was like a span of time before I did hip hop. I was singing first. I was singing all the time. Sing. And then obviously ABC came out, and that's when we thought, oh, okay, we could do this.

Peter:

So how was writing songs where you're singing different than writing raps?

Eve:

It was like I was always in a choir or something, so I sang other people's songs. So it was much more fun to write a rap record that was mine, that was my words, that I could perform.

Peter:

Did you become one of those kids who walked around with a notepad, who was-

Eve:

Oh, my God, yes, I had the black and white notebook all the time. My mom still has a ton of them, and I couldn't write in anything but the black and white notebook, always. Love that record so much.

Peter:

Why did you start laughing in the middle of your verse?

Eve:

Because I said Brody. I handn't heard Brody, in forever that is a Philly word, like Brody the Mike. That takes me to a really nice, amazing, exciting place. You know what I'm saying? Like, so, oh, look where we at.

Peter:

When you were first toying around with it, making your own music, do you remember the kind of ideas and things that were important for you to express at the time?

Eve:

I think my main thing was that I always wanted to be taken seriously, not just because I was girl, but I wanted to come at dudes. So I could talk about their dick size, I could talk about how they don't have no money, how they live with their mom, which obviously we were in high school, so most of them did. But nobody really wanted, you know what I'm saying, like it was very, very easy.

Peter:

Then you end up with Ruff Ryders, and that has to be different, because now you go from singing to rapping with girls, to now you're the female emcee, and not just a crew of dudes, but, I mean, Ruff Ryders is arguably the most macho of crews you could ever be.

Eve:

Absolutely. That's the best way to say it, because, yeah, there's a lot of testosterone in the building at all times.

Peter:

What was that experience like when you have all this testosterone, and then here you are, trying to get your thoughts out and write with these guys?

Eve:

Honestly, it was fine. I was always a tomboy. Even with my girls or whatever, I always hung, I still do. Most of my closest friends are guys, so transitioning into that, it was like hip hop boot camp. I tell people that all the time. It was like boot camp, because I had to stay up and write just like the dudes. If they were in the studio 24 hours, I was there 24 hours, like, they didn't take it lightly on me. But once I proved myself, then I was baby sis, then I was protected and taken care of.

Peter:

Early on, were they involved in the writing process with you a lot?

Eve:

We had writing rooms. People would come in and out and listen. Mostly Darren or Joaquin would come in and out and listen. It was like watching each other. They didn't really play us against each other. We wanted to see who would come up in the ranks.

Peter:

Would you write first? Would you always hear a beat first and then want to write from that?

Eve:

I'm better with a beat, yeah. I'm more focused if I'm in the studio, writing to a beat. Like, if I have something in my head, I jot it down, but as far as a full song, I have to be in the studio.

Peter:

It could've been daunting for someone to be in that space, and instead you being the only girl sort of catapulted you into being to really like, at that point, next after X in terms of who people thought of for Ruff Ryders. You really jumped up the ladder.

Eve:

Yeah, and I think it was a shock to everyone. We would ride around, go to Harlem, do siphers, whatever, and because my name started popping, that's when they thought, okay, you know what, it's time to put her record out. Let's put her record out right now.

Peter:

The first thing that I remember hearing from you, I guess, I don't even know that I was consciously aware it was you at the time, was The Roots record. So "You Got Me" comes out.

Eve:

Right. Nobody knew it was me. Everybody thought it was Erykah Badu. They played me on that shit. I still don't let them forget that, I don't. To this day, I still don't let them forget it, because they played me on the video and everything. I wasn't signed or anything yet when that happened, like, The Roots knew me from Philly. I happened to get on that record. I'm not bitter.

Peter:

Right, right. So you do that record, which, again, people aren't associating with, and then "What You Want" comes out, which is a pretty hard record, and you're obviously in a crew where most of the songs are pretty hard. But at the same time, as rough as the crew was, your second single was a pretty girly song. "I got a man," to me, to this day, is one of the girliest sounding rap songs that I like of all time. Even the sound of it is . . . And then you have the little kids with . . .

Eve:

That's Ice Pick's daughter, who's probably a teenager now. Yeah, one of the crew's kids.

Peter:

So was there a conscious thought, though, about I'm in this hard crew, you were kind of a rough chick at the time, and you're like, "I'm going to drop this really sweet-sounding song?"

Eve:

Okay, it sounds sweet, but if you listen to the lyrics and you look at the video, I'm pawning jewelry for him. He goes to jail. I'm talking about holding him down. Yeah, it's very pretty, but it's still hood.

Peter:

You said you were a singer before you were a rapper. Well, did a transition come about where you would hear songs and think this is a song I want to rap on, as opposed to a song I want to sing on?

Eve:

They knew I could sing, so I would sing some hooks, and then as time went on, they kept trying to encourage me to sing more, and I was like, "No, I don't want to sing. I don't want to sing." And now I listen to tracks, and I write melodically, I think, a lot more than I used to anyway, so now it blurs a little more, that I would be like, "Oh, damn, this would be kind of hot."

Peter:

Of the great producers you worked with, how did they affect your process, add to it? Because a lot of times there's an intimate relationship there as far as creating music with a producer.

Eve:

Some people, you know, like A. Swiss, for instance, that was kind of like intuitive almost. It was like we just knew. It was just like a dance in the studio. He gets in, does his thing, I listen to it, I write, and then that's it. He's the fastest I think I've ever worked with. Somebody like a Dre, for instance, is such a perfectionist, to the point of anger.

Peter:

His anger or your anger?

Eve:

My fucking anger, and that's his process with me, though. A lot of times when we would work together, no one would want to be around us. People would be like, "All right, you all, you all about to work? We leaving," because it was always a scream session by the end. He got the best shit out of me like that, period. Any time that I was ready to give up, I just was like, "I can't write this," sometimes I'd be like, "You all, I'm tired. I want to go home," he'd be like, "You're not leaving, so whatever's going to happen. We going to lock the door." It was like whatever. But then at the end of that session, we'd have a dope ass record.

Peter:

It's funny that you mention the perfection of Dre, too, because there's almost no better example of a Dre record like that than "Let Me Blow Your Mind" which literally note for note is a perfect sounding song.

Eve:

Perfect. And can I tell you, that was such an amazing record in so many ways, obviously Dre, but Scott Storch, who I've known since I was 15 years old, because he used to produce for The Roots my boy from Philly, who I introduced to Dre, and we happened to do this record together. Then getting Gwen on the record obviously, because I was always a fan. That record is one of my favorite records for so many reasons. It was a perfect record. It was the perfect record.

Peter:

Hey, thanks so much, Eve.

Eve:

You're welcome.


In the second episode of The Process with Peter Rosenberg, Eve breaks down how she got into the rap game.

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