Every Hip Hop crew had their star, which was always a male, but the women were holding it down for the team! Ruff Ryders had DMX but Eve is the one who brought the Grammy home.
For Woman’s History Month this year, Two Bees TV will be covering the first ladies in hip-hop. Throughout March, we’ll be exploring the stories of these women; as well as their trendsetting, iconic, and historical moments in the music industry.
Hailed as the “pitbull in a skirt,” Eve was a trendsetter in so many ways. However, her most important accomplishment is that she managed to stick out in the hip-hop scene; the heavily male-dominated industry. Eve is a legend in the game.
Even though her career has since carried her elsewhere, her story is lined with fascinating stories and milestones.
The Early Life of Eve
Born Eve Jihan Jeffers Cooper in Philadelphia on November 10, 1978, she started out as a choir girl in her early teens. During that time, Eve was also honing her skills as a rapper in improvised battles with friends.
Before she left high school, she formed a female rap duo called EDGP (pronounced “Egypt”); adopting the name Gangsta. EDGP performed at local talent shows and club gigs, often to the disadvantage of Eve’s dedication to her schooling. After the group broke up, she went solo and changed her name to Eve of Destruction. Additionally, she moved to the Bronx in the wake of her mother’s remarriage.
Eve spent her time in the Bronx working part-time as a stripper. During an interview with Rolling Stone in 1999, Eve explains that stripping “was a hustle, too,” as she mentions a song on her album. Many female celebrities have got their start with the stripping profession. From Buffie the Body to Cardi B, Eve wasn’t the first and definitely not the last.
It was until the rapper Mase took notice of her in the 90’s that Eve would soon quit; moving on to become a legendary female rapper.
Through some work of her friends, Eve scored a meeting with Dr. Dre in Los Angeles. To his surprise, Eve turned their meeting into a one-woman audition. Likely what he heard, the record producer signed her to a one-year deal with his new label, Aftermath. While there, Eve recorded a few tracks that ended up on the Bulworth soundtrack in 1998.
Eve Links Up With DMX and The Rest is History
Eve’s time with the label was short-lived because the Aftermath was searching for a different direction at the time. She only recorded a few tracks before Eve’s promising career was almost derailed by Dr. Dre’s new signee, Eminem. Eve wound up getting lost in the shuffle and her contract expired without an album.
Fortunately, she’d met DMX when the rising new star was in Los Angeles promoting his smash debut It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot. Passing a battle-rap audition to join DMX‘s Ruff Ryders posse, she joins the group. Thanks to DMX‘s influence, Eve was able to build up anticipation for her debut album.
The Rise Of Eve: Ruff Ryders’ First Lady
The up-and-coming rapper released her debut album, Let There Be Eve…Ruff Ryders’ First Lady, in September 1999.
Apparently, the album was a “diary” of sorts for her, chronicling her life to that point, with every song penned by Eve herself. It was ultimately certified double platinum off of hits like “Gotta Man” and “Love Is Blind,” which she wrote when she was just 16 about a childhood friend in an abusive relationship.
Eve quickly became one of the biggest members of the Ruff Ryders’ collective during the group’s glory days. As the “adopted daughter from Philly,” she remembers the strong protective energy the group had toward her.
“Anytime I tried to go out, I was told to stay in the room,” she recalls. “But when I did go out, listen, it was nuts. It was nuts. It was on another level. I’ve never ever seen another club in that way, with people partying and people just having fun.”
Her biggest mainstream crossover came with her GRAMMY-winning 2001 Gwen Stefani collab, Let Me Blow Ya Mind. In addition, her lead single “Who’s That Girl?,” helped propel her sophomore album, Scorpion, to platinum status; and a GRAMMY nomination of its own.
Eve became one of the greatest selling acts from Ruff Ryder, only coming second to DMX, someone she looked up to. She called herself the meanest pit bull in a skirt because she was fierce with her bars but was also a lady.
In addition, through Eve’s Influence, a whole generation of women was able to come out about domestic violence; after her single “Love is Blind” was released.