It’s human nature to become disoriented with the unfamiliar, but Philly rapper Eve is of an extraordinary sort. When she fell back from the spotlight after 2002’s Eve-Olution, there were a number of female emcees that emerged in her absence. She’s indifferent to the newbies though. With her new Sony Red distribution deal and imprint, From the Ribs Music, Eve is beyond battling for a sole femcee spot. She is the emcee you want to watch.

Who’s to say that there’s only one spot though? This industry is no longer what it was when Eve debuted. The self-proclaimed “pitbull in a skirt” has made it her priority to return to Rap, just in time to represent the past, present and future all at once. Here, Eve speaks to HipHopDX about the changes she’s had to get used to and her own industry rebirth.

Eve Explains Her Hiatus And Moving To London

HipHopDX: So we all know you’ve been keeping yourself busy in past years with acting and your fashion line, but what have you been doing as of late?

Eve: I think a lot of people think I’ve just been chilling, but I haven’t. I’ve been performing for the last two and a half years in different countries. And I live in London now, so I’m on the other side of the world, but I’ve been working. I’ve been moving.

DX: I thought I saw that you lived out in London now. How’s that been?

Eve: I love it honestly. It’s just a dope city. It’s like a New York but obviously with accents. Plus my boyfriend’s there. That was a big part of it. I just really needed a change. Different scenery…but now that I’m back in New York it just makes me excited to be back in America. But it’s a nice change.

DX: You’ve been noted recently as saying that you feel like a new artist all over again. Why would you say that’s the case?

Eve: Oh yeah! Um, shit, I’m been through a lot. But I think now, I feel like a new artist because this music that I’ve made this time around is off of my personal label. So creatively I never really have to ask anybody for permission to do anything. If I want to do it, then I would just do it. And I think expressing myself, the way that I want to express myself that also makes me feel like a new artist.

DX: Are you still that “pitbull in a skirt” though?

Eve: I still feel that…I do! That same aggression is still there. You can’t get in the game without feeling like you’re about to take over the world. That’s the kind of confidence you need. I think I definitely had a different kind of mindset this time around because it’s all mine. I feel like, “Oh yeah…” I’m still as excited and hungry as before.

Eve On People’s Fixation With Her Relationships And Sex Appeal

DX: Why do you think that—even with a new LP coming and after being gone for so long—the first interview questions are usually about your romantic relationships?

Eve: Yeah, it’s really interesting. You know I had an interview earlier today on the radio and they talked about a whole lot of that too. I don’t know. It could be that I’ve been away so long that people are like, “Yo, what are you doing personally…in your life.” I really don’t know. I mean, obviously with the interracial thing, it’s me being a chick coming from where I come from. You know I come from the hood in Philly, and that just not something that’s…and I come from Hip Hop, so I think that people are interested in that way. But it is kinda funny that people want to continually talk about my old relationship and my new relationship.

DX: After a while, one has to think that the love questions get old.

Eve: Absolutely! Because at the end of the day, my relationships aren’t gonna sell this record [laughs]. The music has got to sell this record. That’s where I’m at. That’s what’s important to me.

DX: So on the upcoming Lip Lock album you have 100% creative control right? Since it’s through your imprint…

Eve: Yeah, definitely. You know I come from Ruff Ryders, so not having all the guys around, it was hard in the beginning. Darrin [“Dee”] Dean was the coach, so in the beginning it was like, “Damn, I don’t have anyone here to really coach me.” But then, when I got into it, it was nice to choose the producers I wanted to work with and even the writers. I pulled in a writer for this, so it was just nice to be able to make all my own decisions.

DX: Are you still good with the Ruff Ryders camp?

Eve: Oh yeah, definitely. It’s all love every time we see each other. It’s just we don’t get to see each other because everybody’s scattered pretty much. Everybody lives in different places, and they’re doing different things. But if any one of them needs me, at the drop of a dime, I’ll be there to do a record, do a show, like whatever. So yeah, it’s all love.

DX: What would you say is the overall vibe of Lip Lock?

Eve: That’s a good question actually. I never even thought about it. I guess the overall vibe is just confidence. Definitely. A lot of the songs that you’ll hear, you can tell there’s confidence there. And I had fun with it. I think you’ll be able to hear that I had a good time making this record.

DX: A lot of people look at your being “sexy” as being a huge part of your career. Is that a huge focus of your return?

Eve: I don’t think about it. I honestly, um, I mean, especially now I know people want to see skin. But I feel like it was like that when I came out the first time too. But I don’t think about it. For me, it was more about what’s fitting my body right, fashion. Like, I have a video shoot tomorrow. We did fittings yesterday, and I’m covered up basically. It’s form-fitting stuff, but it’s not over-sexed. I’ve never been that kind of person anyway. So I think, on one hand, I kinda gotta think about it to a certain extent, but I’m never gonna be, like, out there. You’ll never see me in little, little shit [laughs].

DX: Honestly though, you’ve never been really over-the-top with the scanty clothing.

Eve: Yeah, I’ve never been oversexed like just out there, out there. I’m just not comfortable like that. Especially when I first came out. I never wanted anyone to look at me. I wanted people to pay attention to my lyrics. It’s like that for me now too. I want people to pay attention to the music. You still gotta look good but… [laughs]

How Mentoring And Marketing Will Impact Eve’s Lip Lock Album

DX: You’ve always been pretty astute in shining light on what your surrounding community may need help in. First issue that comes to mind is domestic violence and your song “Love Is Blind.” Now you’re in a partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters, can you speak a bit on the details?

Eve: Basically, I’m their celebrity ambassador, but my next single, “Make It Out This Town” is pretty much dedicated to them. And we’re trying to figure out what to do with the proceeds to help them, but the other thing is that I want to lend my voice to try and get people to volunteer and mentor. What they need especially is black and Latino men, because there are tons of little black and Latino boys waiting on someone to come and mentor them. It’s started a little fire in me to want to help them out. It’s a dope organization and hopefully I’ll encourage some people to come and mentor.

DX: “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” and “Gangsta Lovin’” were huge singles, and the reasoning for signing with Aftermath—then with Interscope—was to get that big marketing push. What do you expect from this deal with Sony/RED now that the marketplace has changed?

Eve: It was just a different machine back then, period. I was signed to a major label. With Sony Red, they’re just distribution. They’re not the complete label. I’m the label. It’s a different kind of machine. They’re definitely behind me, and they’re gonna back me and do everything that they need to do. They have amazing push, but everything’s just changed from the beginning. There’s not the same kind of machine, and we have to do things a different way. Everything’s so viral. I’m sure they’ll be on it.

DX: As someone who debuted sort of on the cusp, do you feel like there’s something lost on the “overnight success” of today’s Hip Hop artists?

Eve: Oh yeah, absolutely. To me? I would be scared to just be on YouTube one day and then just this big star the next day. I think there’s something to going out and having to build your fan base. Doing shows and being able to touch people in these clubs. I loved that process. And it’s something that’s lost on a lot of these people that just blow up so quickly. You can see it sometimes in their attitudes and the way that they act. It’s like, they got it so fast and didn’t have to work for it. I would never wanna come out that way. I like the fact that I had to go out and really make people look at me and be like, “Yo,” and go gain my fans. There’s something missing. There’s definitely something missing as an artist.