NEW YORK — Eve's still the illest pitbull in a skirt, but nowadays, there might be a little bit more lace on her skirt than before.
For instance, on her forthcoming album, Here I Am — her first project in five years, due August 7 — the Philly native ditches the fierce raps (almost) and goes into R&B mode on the Pharrell-produced "All Night Long."
"I'm singing the whole song," Eve said excitedly while in town last week to preview music from her album. "I just didn't want to sing! Because I've sung hooks before, but to sing a whole song, that's something I actually have to do onstage. I think [about it] in that way. Like, what if I mess up? What if there's a frog in my throat? I made it a point, though, to sing like I might just regularly sing, where anybody can sing it. At a tone where I'm not trying to be Alicia Keys. I'm not trying to blow at all, because I'm not that kind of singer. But it's nerve-racking. I'm used to going in the booth and doing what I have to do and then I'm out. With singing, it becomes a chore. But it's one of my favorite songs on the album now.
"I actually got to sneak back in and put, like, eight bars of rap in [the song]," Eve admitted, laughing.
Another thing Eve was cautious not to overload on was the number of collaborators on Here I Am. Mary J. Blige, Robin Thicke, T.I., Sean Paul, Timbaland and Swizz Beatz all make appearances, giving the album multiple flavors throughout — from the ragga-inspired number with Sean Paul to the gruff collabo with Tip. Swizz also serves as executive producer of the project and contributes to Eve's lead single, "Tambourine." The pair recently shot a video for the Melina-directed clip in Los Angeles.
But while Eve's loosening up and having more fun on her latest project, the rapper — whose past hits include "Love Is Blind," dedicated to domestic-abuse victims — had plenty to share with MTV News regarding Don Imus and the dustup over rap lyrics in the aftermath of the shock jock's firing (see "Hip-Hop Under Fire: A Video Timeline Of Controversies Over Rappers And Their Rhymes," "Hip-Hop Hits Back At Imus, Critics: T.I., Snoop, Fat Joe, Common Weigh In" and "Hip-Hop On The Defensive After Imus Incident; Sharpton Calls For 'Dialogue' With MCs").
"I feel like there are so many other [more important] things going on in the world," Eve said. "I get it. I get it completely. I barely say bitch. I do say it. I usually don't say ho. The N-word, more than anything, holds a negative connotation. It's a word I grew up with and that's a word that's never threatened me and I've never used it in a threatening manner. But I also get it. And I feel like if that's a word that's going to be removed, it has to be a movement and we all need to do it at the same time.
"I still haven't decided where I stand all the way," she continued, acknowledging that she is one of the first females in hip-hop to comment on the matter. "It's not just hip-hop, and that's the thing that makes me mad. Those words have been a part of everyone's vocabulary at some point in everyone's life. Black, white, whatever. Hip-hop, pop, rock. So it makes me mad that the fingers are being pointed at hip-hop for those certain words. There are movies that come out every year where a woman is being smacked up and beat down by a man. Let's talk about domestic violence. No men will stand up [for that]. They want to say, 'I want to take these certain words out of a song.' But a lot of men that are hitting women won't stand up and say, 'You know what? I'm gonna stop hitting my women today.' That's what we need to be fighting. Stuff like that. There are a lot of different issues."
Responding to her recent arrest in Beverly Hills on DUI charges, Eve said: "Things happen and this is the nature of the business I'm in," she said. "I just feel blessed and happy that all the good things completely outweigh anything negative in my life."