In the past week, I’ve had time to reflect on Eve’s latest release, Lip Lock, and I’ve come to a couple conclusions. First and foremost, Eve has not, and will never, lose her grit and dominating attitude that renders the stereotypes of gender in hip hop null and void; that is very clear and reassuring. However, my second conclusion is that Eve’s musical intentions have been modified by both her mounting fame as well as the state of female MCs in the game at the moment, and the results are, ultimately, boring and unoriginal.
The album starts off strong: “Eve” is a heavy-hitting track with an almost Kanye-style hook designed both to make Nicki Minaj shake her wig off in terror and to allow the public to see the queen has not lost her spitting game. Even “She Bad Bad” has some skillful self-glorifying moments, even if it gets a bit gimmicky and overwhelming with voice modifications and pounding dance club buildups. However, this E-V-E confidence is the overarching theme of almost every track on Lip Lock, a fact that causes the album to seem more like a collection of hopeful singles rather than a complete, coherent musical work.
From most other rappers today, I would consider this album very solid, respectable, and ambitious in its production value. But this is Eve we’re talking about, the Grammy-award-winning artist behind songs like “Love Is Blind”, “Who’s That Girl” and “Let Me Blow Your Mind”. She’s worked with Erykah Badu, the Roots, Q-Tip, Gwen Stefani, and countless others to produce songs that range from socially aware and brutally honest to internationally infectious while never losing her Philly tenacity. On Lip Lock, Eve’s foray into pop comes out as dribble with hooks by Gabe Saporta from Cobra Starship and Snoop Dogg. The finished product seems more an amalgamation of backing tracks used by Katy Perry and Pitbull with Eve rapping forgettable lyrics over them.
This is disappointing from a musical point of view, but I’m sure every single released will get major radio play and millions of Youtube hits because mainstream rap today (with the granted few exceptions) is not about the fluidity of an album or ingenuity of lyricism. It is about producing multipurpose music that can be played in the club and the home. It needs to be marketable. It’s needs to be catchy, but it cannot be too strange or controversial to alienate the average listener.
The Fugees, A Tribe Called Quest and Tupac are relics of the past, replaced with Young Money, Maybach Music, and Gucci Mane. Eve obviously wants to get paid the money to which she is now accustomed, so she has ensured that her latest album, Lip Lock, will sell. But who can blame her? It’s the state of the industry.