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I want them to want to know everything about all kinds of races.” The emcee, whose new album Lip Lock is in stores now, clarified her “colorblind” statement in a video interview with the Grio, saying she’s surprised that the topic of interracial dating is even relevant to the public anymore.

“At this point it still annoys me that race is such a big issue in 2013,” Eve said in the interview. They’re not the same race, but no one says a thing.” “I don’t understand it,” she adds.

The intro track, “First Lady,” is the equivalent of a red carpet being unfurled, a call-and-response chant delivered by Swizz Beatz and an anonymous male chorus: “When I say E-VAY, y’all say E/When I say RU-UFF, y’all say RYDERS.” The next track, the steel-tipped “Let’s Talk About,” opens with ad-libs from Ruff Ryders’ associate Drag-On.

When Eve finally appears, a couple seconds in, it feels like the relief of a sunbeam. Even when it feels like her ideas are retrofitted to preexisting, Swizz-produced morsels—on the frosty posse cut “Scenario 2000,” featuring DMX, Drag-On, and the Lox, for example, Swizz samples himself—Eve establishes breathing room for herself.

That fall, amid Y2K mania and vague collective fears about an uncertain future, Eve officially claimed her spot as Ruff Ryders’ self-described “pitbull in a skirt” and released .

“And I never went back in the club.” After another fortuitous meeting, this one with an executive at Dr.

There is little experimentation on the album—that would come later, with her blockbuster album—but Eve bobs and weaves with dexterity, skillfully overcoming Swizz Beatz’s anemic production.

At the time, collaborators and critics often attributed Eve’s success to her ability to hang with the guys without sacrificing her conventional femininity; the critic Touré, in a review of the album, described her as “a thug with curves.” Her maneuvering required a kind of gender code-switching in which she had to be the “pitbull in a skirt,” years before the concept of the Cool Girl would become solidified in pop culture.

One track, the chest-thumping skit “My Bitches,” is a direct response to DMX’s “My Niggas,” but is awesomely appropriated to act like something of a thesis statement for the entire project: “My bitches, my bitches that take care of they kids/My bitches, my bitches that you don’t respect/My bitches, my bitches that you always neglect/Y’all niggas ain’t real, y’all niggas ain’t shit.” Eve’s lyrics often appear simple in transcription, but they land with the heart and urgency Philly rap is celebrated for.

Despite the Ruff Ryders’ attempts at co-opting , it winds up being an album of self-determination, where she effortlessly bests the guys at what they think is their own game.

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