During the past couple of weeks I have watched television and entertainment news shows feature Will Smith and son Jaden. They are making the rounds to promote their new film After Earth. I’m sure many of you saw the clip of Will and Jaden performing the theme song to his old sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel Air when they further surprised the audience as Alphonso Ribeiro (Carlton from Fresh Prince) joined them on stage. I thought of a earlier post I wrote about rappers who successfully turn to television and film acting to further express artistic talents. Will Smith was a full-time rapper before he became the King of the summer blockbuster. Ice Cube, Ice T and Queen Latifah all started their careers as rap artists before conquering the large and small screens of the world. Then we have our featured artist this week: Eve.
As a young woman Eve Jihan Jeffers rose to the top of the entertainment world in a male dominated genre at the time. It was her collaborations with DMX and the Ruff Ryders that helped her gain notoriety. Her 1999 début, Let There Be Eve…Ruff Ryders’ First Lady, was an unprecedented success, making it the third album by a female rap artist to top the Billboard 200, behind Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998) and Foxy Brown’s Chyna Doll (1999). The follow-up to Ruff Ryders’ First Lady, Scorpion, was released in 2001. Its first single, “Who’s That Girl” guaranteed the rapper first international success. The second single, “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” (with Gwen Stefani of No Doubt), became a pop success, peaking at number two on the Billboard Hot 100. The song won a Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, and Eve eventually went platinum.
The success from Eve’s recording career also brought about television and movie appearances quickly. I was impressed that Eve was able to work well in comedic and dramatic roles equally. Throughout her years acting she received movie roles in comedy films Barbershop, Barbershop 2, The Cookout, and landed roles in dramas The Woodsman and Flashbacks of a Fool. In fact she starred in the sitcom titled Eve in 2003 which ran for three seasons. Eve definitely is enjoying a great career in front of the camera much the same as many of her contemporaries from hip hop. However, what happened last month is something a little different. On May 14th Eve released her first album in over ten years entitled Lip Lock.
In a recent radio interview Eve was asked why she chose to release an album now. The DJ asked Eve, Do you need the money? Of course she laughed and stated that the situation is right. What does that mean? Eve explained that creating music and writing songs is what she does, and it was time for her to create more music. After ten years and a successful acting career? One thing that is different from some of the other rap artists turned actors is Eve has continued to work musically appearing on a variety of other artists’ songs. Musically, Eve has been very active and remains creative as a rap artist. Another reason contributing to making the situation right is her release from binding recording contracts. Lip Lock was released on Eve’s own label From the Rib Music which gave her full control of the album’s creative process as well as promotions. Up to this time the album has received mixed reviews, but it may be because critics don’t really understand where Eve is today, as opposed to ten years ago. Eve divides her time residing in London and New York, giving her a true world view. After listening to the entire album I believe this fact has affected her musical approach and ideas. Give it a listen and form your own opinion.
I wonder if she will continue to act and produce music, or just concentrate on one art form. If the situation is right, we will be hearing more music from Eve.