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LADIES THAT LUNCH: Eve and Jasmine

IT’S not uncommon for rap cliques to have a ‘first lady.’ Whether it was Lisa Maffia representing So Solid, Nicki Minaj flying the flag for Cash Money, or Foxy Brown’s association with Jay-Z, there is often a female talent in the crew.

Some ladies fell off, and let’s be real, others weren’t as sharp as their male counterparts or couldn’t take the pace.

Ruff Ryders were a force to be reckoned with, as frontman DMX blew up the charts with his hard-hitting tracks. But the label’s first lady Eve was just as strong with hits like Who’s That Girl?, Let Me Blow Ya Mind and Gangsta Lovin’.

Like many, she enjoyed fame early, and after taking a lengthy hiatus, she returned to the scene earlier this year with her new album Lip Lock.

Whilst in the UK, we had a catch-up when I took her for an al fresco lunch in Ladbroke Grove, west London. After welcoming her back, I reminded her that the last time we had been together was when we made her electronic press kit (EPK) for Universal 10 years ago. We laughed at the memories.

It’s been so long since the industry has had a female MC on the scene, who was famed for her flow and not just gimmicks. Eve explained that she felt like a new act coming back to the industry, as so much had changed since the start of her career.

“There was no big social media when I first came out,” she said. “My fans get mad with me cos I don’t tweet enough and I have to remind myself to do it. If I had the choice, I wouldn’t do it. I prefer to stay private.

But I’m excited [to be back]. Everything’s different and new and it’s exciting! I’m exploring again. No one could’ve predicted the growth of the hip-hop monster.”

We laughed about our memories of her one-time boss DMX, particularly his obsession with remote control gadgets and eccentricities. Eve admitted she doesn’t talk to or even see DMX anymore.

‘’We did shows last year but this solo album had to be just me. I will always be Ruff Ryders for life, but this had to be my journey.”

Eve is a fierce rapper and she’s not afraid to make a few musical left turns. Her new music highlights are diverse, boasting an array of musical styles. And she revealed that being in the UK sparked her interest to work with British talents.

“Now that I’m staying here in the UK, I wanna work with more British acts and producers. I really need to do my homework on who’s hot.”

VA VA VROOM:Eve at her boyfriend's Gumball Rally

I told her Wiley and Naughty Boy should most definitely be on her research list! Eve has also mentioned that she’d love to work with Andre 3000 and Lauryn Hill, but with all Lauryn’s tax and money drama’s, I assume this wont be happening any time soon. Eve sympathized.

“Money problems happen to all of us – it happened to me. You’ve gotta watch the people that are watching your money. Artists do need to have this education early on in their career. I learnt to attend the board meetings. I used to hate them and be bored by them, but now I go over every bit of paperwork they send me. Even though I trust my teams now, I always go over all my paperwork.”

We also discussed how the music business can affect young talents too. Eve thinks that one-hit-wonders on the internet can be a lazy way of making it to the top.

“There are so many more one-hit-wonders today than there ever were back in the day, thanks to YouTube. In my day, you had to do the hard slog – tour, gain respect, do the underground, street kind of thing. Young artists don’t need to do that anymore.”

Eve now lives in the UK with her boyfriend Max Cooper, who runs the infamous Gumball Car Rally. Comparing life in the UK to that in the States, the Philadelphia-born star said:

“I still feel like a tourist in the UK and see something new daily. In the US, people recognise me easier, so it’s not as easy for me to disappear.

“I know my American peeps are wrong about British food – the food is here if you know where to find it! The Sunday roasts and sticky toffee pudding is to die for! I don’t cook myself though – I can do breakfast. My boyfriend gets excited when I finally get in the kitchen!”

Going into detail about how she got together with her English gent, and the issues with cross-culture relationships, she revealed:

“Puma had asked me to do Gumball and I met my guy there. It wasn’t planned – I wasn’t trying to be in a relationship. Gumball was my way of escaping my last relationship. But he and I met on the red carpet and for the rest of that week, we were like ‘hi.’

“When we first got together, it was a bit weird. I’d never dated a white guy, he had never dated a black woman – now we’re planning a vacation for me and his four kids.”

She continued: “The vibe between us is perfect; the problems only come from other ignorant people who are insecure. But I think I’m opening up conversations in the States about positive interracial dating.

“I thought cos he runs gumball he would be a player, but he is such a committed, family man, and I need that stability. It’s a nice dynamic. He’s my go-to person, best friend and homie.”

Revealing her personal top tip for a solid relationship, she said: “If you can drive for hours together on a road trip and assemble Ikea furniture with no drama, then you’re good!”

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