It’s been 11 years since the ruff ryding, self proclaimed pit bull in a skirt has released a studio album. The last time time we really saw her make waves on the music charts was with her album Evo-o-lution, which featured the single, “Gangsta Lovin” with Alicia Keys. After 2 label switches, fighting with Interscope over the release over hew album and relocating to live in London, Eve is finally back to blow our minds again. But the question is, does she still have the same bite that she did back in her hey day?
Lip Lock, which Eve explains is a 2 part title that pays homage to her favorite physical feature, her lips, and the cocky statement that she has the game on lock. It’s no secret that a lot in music (and life in general) has changed since Eve has disappeared from the music scene. One of the most prevalent things is that of fan loyalty to an artist. It’s all about who’s number 1 at the moment and the new face that will be number 1 by tomorrow morning. Gone are the days when artists sell diamond albums (10 million records). These days, it’s cause for a celebration if an artist reaches platinum sales. Instead of waiting on a major label to release her music, Eve opted to take matters into her own hands and released Lip Lock on her own label, From the Rib.
She kicks the CD off strong with the aptly titled “Eve”, featuring Miss Kitty. Eve proves that while she may have been gone for over a decade, she hasn’t lost her rapping skills. “She Bad Bad” is the CD’s first single and has a reggae tinged, hard thumping base line that finds Eve chanting, “You know my style already/Scorpion, she stings she’s lethal”. Although this is one of Lip Lock‘s standout tracks, the remix that closes out the CD is a bit redundant. The only change are additional verses from Juicy J and Pusha T. Perhaps the sore thumb of the album is ironically the most uplifting. “Make It Out This Town” featuring Gabe Saporta of Cobra Starship has a great positive message, but doesn’t gel cohesively with the rest of Lip Lock. It teeters on the fence of being too pop and sounds like a reworked song for Toby Mac. But as Eve proved on her early hit, “Love Is Blind” featuring Faith Evans, she can still make cautionary music cool. Somehow this song lacks that same effect.
There are plenty of guest appearances here as well from Dawn Richard (of Danity Kane fame), Snoop Dogg, Missy Elliott, and Chrisette Michele. Of these appearances, the tracks that stand out the most are the Missy Elliott (whose presence is barely noticed) assisted “Wanna Be” and the grimey Snoop Dogg club song “Mama In The Kitchen”. On “Wanna Be”, she boldly calls out no one specific for biting her style over the years. Speaking of style biters, it’s interesting that a few of her songs, most notably “Keep Me From You” featuring Dawn Richard and “All Night”, sound like a Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj mash up. But in her defense, Eve has been in music industry for over 15 years, so it’s safe to say she was probably just taking back some of her own thunder. But Eve pulls out the big guns at the end of her CD and saves some of the best tracks for last. “Grind or Die” and “Zero Below” embody the spirit of Eve right before she made it big as the first female of Ruff Ryders. Lip Lock is solid as a whole, but I must say these 2 tracks stand a little taller above the rest. Eve shows a littlle bit of her sexy side on “Forgive Me”. This is another reggae inspired cut where she says that her man just can’t leave the house because she’s so sexy.
Although Eve doesn’t reach any new heights with Lip Lock, it’s definitely worth a listen. It’s refreshing to see that she has decided against conformity of what’s currently hot in music. Hopefully we won’t have to wait another 11 years for the next release from rap music’s pit bull in a skirt.