After years of management disputes, record label issues, underperforming singles and shelved projects, Eve returns with her much delayed yet highly anticipated fourth LP. Widely considered to be among the best female emcees of the 90’s, the former first lady of Ruff Ryders’ new offering feels more like a pucker than the relentless, ferocious bite synonymous with her feisty pitbull in a skirt persona. In a music industry congested with mainstream, commercial and pop fluff, Lip Lock had the potential to bring the female rap genre back to it’s hardcore, gritty roots. Instead, we’re left with a solid, though uneven, crossover Pop/Rap album by a veteran that’s evidently struggling to find her voice.
Released on Eve’s independent label, From The Rib Music, Lip Lock boasts a wide range of appearances from the likes of Snoop Dogg, Missy Elliott, Claude Kelly, Chrisette Michelle and Pusha T. Eve has never been afraid of taking risks by dabbling with other styles of music and effectively combining her aggressiveness with perfectly assembled bits of melodic pop productions that have commonly resulted in pure magic (a la her 2001 single “Let Me Blow Your Mind). Though the 12 tracks on Lip Lock see Eve switching back and forth between different genres, the results are mixed at best. New single “Make It Out This Town” featuring Cobra Starship member Gabe Saporta, sounds like a cut straight out of Flo Rida’s catalogue, while the irresistible Nicki Minaj inspired dance tune “Keep Me From You (feat. Dawn Richard)” though well produced, suffers from lackluster and elementary lyrics. Some of the motivational songs on the album (“Never Gone”), while not bad, are disappointing, especially when compared to her previous work (“Love is Blind”). Therein lies the problem with this album; she’s done all of this before, much better. One can’t help but be underwhelmed especially when you take into account the 11 year gap between this and her last album, Eve-Olution.
Her identity crisis doesn’t plague the entire album. The album opener, aptly titled “Eve (feat. Miss Kitty)” is reckless, wrath-filled Eve at her best, boasting about her sitting on her throne and her untouchable status — “Ain’t no guessing it’s E-V-E / I’m the chick that they wish they’d be / Know by now, do not f-ck with me / Stay on top, no touching me.” The braggadocio effectively continues on buzz single “She Bad Bad” as she taunts, “Blow ’em out the fucking water / Kill ‘em dead, called a slaughter / Ain’t my fault, I had it built up / Had to get it out my system / Now I’m back, forget about them other chicks, man, you won’t miss ‘em.” Another highlight is the Snoop Dogg assisted “Mama in the Kitchen,” mostly in part to it’s infectious chorus and superb production.
Eve excels when she sticks to what she does best; unleashing her inner prowess, passion and conviction. Though the album wasn’t worth the 11 year wait, it has the potential to perform well over time if the right singles are released. At the very least, she must be applauded for her undying determination to release this project, independently. While her genre hopping didn’t always work in her favor here, the album is an overall, solid effort by an incredibly talented female emcee.