The iconic rapper reflects on over 20 years in the rap game and her new podcast Constantly Evolving.
It’s been 19 years since the release of EVE’s bad bitch anthem “Who’s That Girl”, and the single will ring out through club sound systems eternally. Coming up in the late 90s with paw-print tattoos and a red pixie cut, the rapper was one of the collection of female emcees that made female rap what is it today: empowering, fierce and dominating. With over 20 years in the music biz, the rapper has inspired a generation of new-school rap, rivalling their male-counterparts and breaking boundaries in a male-dominated industry.
But it hasn’t always been about music, from acting to clothing lines, EVE has lent her talents to all aspects of the creative industry over years, stepping away from the ferocity and cut-throat world of music and entering the American talk show world with Sara Gilbert’s daytime show The Talk. Discussing motherhood, lifestyle and current trends in the world, the show opened up doors for the rapper leading her to start her own platform dubbed Constantly Evolving with BBC Sounds. Linking up with the likes of super-producer Swizz Beats and fashion designer Henry Holland, the show pulls back the curtain on success and giving us an insight into the hardships creatives faced on the come-up in an unforgiving world. We caught up with EVE talking her new podcast, how she has evolved over the years and the future of female rap.
Check out the interview below…
How’s lockdown been for you?
It’s been good. I mean the second wave is a bit easier, I’m sure for a lot of people it is. The first wave was just weird and crazy and I definitely had one breakdown moment, had a panic attack then got over that but i was working the whole time because I was still doing the talk sow I do in the states, and we had to switch to Zoom which was interesting. It was good because it gave me something to do every day, it gave me schedule, a structure which is something I’m thankful for.
Do you feel like it affected your creativity in anyway, did you feel less creative because you couldn’t go out and do things?
You know, I think for me, I don’t think I was being creative, well no I would say slightly. I actually started guitar lessons in lockdown, which I did not finish [laughs] which I will finish later. I actually started them before the Zoom shows started so I stopped. iI think for me creatively, I loved hearing all the stories from people, like writers and producers, that why came up with new sounds and finished projects, I think that is amazing. For me, I didn’t do the same. I can’t wait to hear all of these lockdown records that are going to come out.
You’ve been living in London for a while now, what is it about the city, what do you love most about it?
When I first started coming to London for press reasons, for albums and singles, I just loved it immediately. When I was younger I always thought I’d live here, even just for six months or a year even before I met my husband I was like ‘I want to live in England, I wanna live in France!’ There’s something about being here that just feels normal, it feels right. I’m happy. I’ve said this before, my soul or my spirit it just feels like I should be here. It feels like home.
The music industry down here is insane as well, so many talents.
It is, when I was first coming here in the beginning of my career, the UK Hip Hop scene wasn’t huge it was more about grime and garage, but that was more in the forefront, now I just think overall, whether it’s the singer/songwriters or hip hop or grim or whatever I think it’s so great. Afrobeats as well! you can’t forget Afrobeats, it’s just such a great musical vibe I love it.
Why did you decide to start your own podcast and why this topic as well?
Honestly, it’s one of those things that happened so fast! I was talking to my manager and wanted to do something different and talk about stuff that I’m passionate about on a different platform because as I said, I’m on a talkshow in the states but it’s me and four other women. We’re not dictated to by any means, we can to talk about things we’re passionate about but because there are four other women you don’t get as much time to dive into things as much as you’d want to. The way I live my life, I’m a curious person. I’m a constant project, I’m always trying to stay positive on how to better my life whether its mentally, spiritually – whatever. I think it’s important to hear stories from all walks of life and hearing the hardships they had and how they got through them. That’s what I want this podcast to be, I want people to be entertained by it but also want people to be like ‘damn that was a good little nugget’ and for people to be inspired by it and hopefully that’s what it’ll do.
It’s all about evolving and learning, looking back on careers and reflecting, how do you think over the years that you’ve evolved and you sound looking back on it?
I feel like I am definitely, constantly evolving is a perfect thing because that’s who I am and I’ve always even like that. When I look back on when I was first starting, I thought I was gonna put out one record, that’s all I wanted and I was happy with that. Then, of course, you sign a contract and they’re like ‘no we want three more’ [laughs] or however it works. I feel like I’ve been so lucky, from my music career, which was and still is incredible to acting, to a tonne of things in-between – having a clothing line. I’ve been just very lucky and I can see my sound has evolved to a certain extent I haven’t put music out in a little while but when people listen to me they know is me, that’s the EVE they love. Especially living in the UK, my ear has evolved to different sounds which I probably would not have been evolved to if I had still been living in the states. But yeah, my fashion has evolved too, everything [laughs].
In your first episode with Swizz you said you took a break from the industry, what kind of prompted this decision to step back?
I think it’s a few things…I think I’ve done it a few times, but it’s usually when I’m working on other projects because I have a one-track mind when I’m working on projects, If I’m working on an album I completely focus on that but obviously now I’m trying to do things that are more lifestyle-driven and I’ve been trying to give energy to that. I think for me it’s just sometimes, and there have been times, unfortunately in the past, I’ve taken a step back because the business isn’t right or I just wasn’t inspired, literally just felt deflated and defeated. When I left my major label, I was on a major label for so many years, and then they let me go. That was one of the hardest times in my life, I didn’t know what to do I grew up on that label between 18-27 and I was deflated but you know you pick yourself up again.
How do you overcome that because a lot of artists do go through that, so how did you navigate your next steps from there?
I’m not gonna lie, it was not easy. I think even if you’re the most positive or motivated person you still have days or weeks where you sit in your pyjamas and try not to cry on the sofa. I went through that, I went through a very dark period. I started doubting myself, started to doubt if I wasn’t really good but I just slowly tried to build my confidence back, whether that was writing or doing shows, even small intimate shows. Reaching out to my fans and just having good people around you.
On the show as well you have some incredible guest like Swizz, Henry, Paloma Faith…when you hear their own stories do you sit back and realise that different journeys pan out in different ways?
I love talking to Swizz, I love talking to Henry, and everybody! Especially with Swizz, there were things I heard from him that I had never heard before and I learned something from him. I love hearing how humble and grateful and motivational he is. With Henry, that conversation was so real and I feel so grateful to have had that conversation with him. He talked about his business where he’s going and where he’s been and It’s just nice hearing people take off that celebrity suit and just be a person. I really hope that continues to happen on this podcast, we all want the same we all want happiness and to be successful and whatever that it doesn’t matter, we’re all trying to do our best.
What made you pick these people to come on your podcast?
A lot of it had to do with my production team who are incredible, but some of it is a collaboration. some people I know, I have a personal relationship with and some I have never met before. It’s more about finding people who have interesting stories and hopefully will be real about their journey.
Looking back on your career as well, or other people’s careers, there are so many pressures to act a certain way, be a certain way and keep up with the trends. At the beginning did you feel pressure to act a certain way and keep that up in your career?
To a certain extent. In the beginning, your more just learning the business and it’s more of you just trying to keep up and what you think you supposed to do. When you get older, you definitely get those choices and allow yourself to be more true to yourself. I’ve always been very lucky to always stay me, when I was younger I definitely fell into stuff, I always tried to take my friends on tour and while that’s a nice gesture, it was pretty expensive [laughs]. That’s when you realise they’re not meant to be on the same journey and that’s such a heartbreaking realisation in life. I think we’ve all had friend breakups and those friend breakups are the worst and that was for me one of the biggest lessons in my life, like yeah you want everyone here but no everyone is meant to be on this journey. That was a big one.
As one of the female OG’s in the rap game and hip hop world, there were so many challenges in the 2000s when female rappers were trying to become more prominent, there’s still some difficulties now. What advice would you give to the new generation as a female rapper coming up in the game?
It’s so ridiculous that we’re still talking about this from the time that I came out, like why? Honestly, it’s so frustrating to me. my advice would just keep going, we need a balance we need female voices and female energy, it can’t just be a group of dudes out there. Just believe, believe harder than you’ve believed in anything else. One advantage the younger generation have that I didn’t is that you don’t have to rely on a label to be seen, whereas I did. There are so many different forms of social media and build your own following, it’s such a beautiful thing. I had to rely on a whole machine of people.
You had the talk show The Talk and it’s come out that you’ve left which is really sad. Do you think you’ll ever go back or maybe start your own talk show in the UK?
It was such a hard decision to walk away. And as I’ve said I love being here and me and my husband have been trying to work on a family for a long time, I can always go back and forth but I don’t know as far as starting my own talk show here that would be amazing!
Apart from the podcast what’s next for you?
I’m actually filming something in December quickly for a series. I love acting and producing, I have a project, I have a producing partner back in the states and we are working on a show as well about women and supercars. So, I’m always wanting to be creative and that’s my output right now, thinking of shows to create and just enjoying my new home! I need to stop saying that because I’ve been here for a while! How crazy is this year?
Constantly Evolving is available now on BBC Sounds