Rating: 6.5 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
Eve has always stood out. For one, she’s a hot looking female – guaranteed to get interest levels raised from the jump. However, its undeniable that she does have some talent too, possessing a solid flow, and on occasion, some truly inspired lyrical content in her tracks. So what’s the problem then? Well her previous albums, the debut “Ruff Ryder’s First Lady”, and the follow up “Scorpion” have both been lacklustre at best. I don’t think I’m the only one who found both albums a shade on the disappointing side – both falling into the trap of promising too much with a hot first single, which ultimately couldn’t save either album from slipping into mediocrity. With the release of “Eve-olution” though, Eve hopes to change that, although eyebrows were already raised when I noticed that production credits included the same old familiar faces. Whether Dr Dre’s increasingly lazy production techniques, or Swizz Beat’s admittedly improving tracks can improve on the blueprint laid down on “Scorpion” remains to be seen.
Third time lucky? Let’s find out…
‘What’ is a truly aggressive opener – for once Mr Andre Young gets the balancing act between keeping it simple but effective, and looping a repetitive sample until we’re sick of it, just right. Over Dre’s menacingly fast-paced synths, and Aftermath’s overrated new female Truth Hurts’ hook, Eve certainly keeps up her side of the bargain –
“Tired of my voice? Plug your ears
Outrageous by choice, love the stares
Knew my time would come, was prepared
Come back second to none, still be here.”
Believe me, it sounds better than it reads! The whole track is perfectly executed, and the agression levels are certain to take a few people by surprise.
‘What’ is followed by current single ‘Gangsta Lovin’, a song that’ll perhaps be a little too syrupy for many tastes. Unsurprisingly, production on here is handled by Irv Gotti – not a difficult guess considering the man barely goes beyond his “Hits From The 80’s” compilations, when he’s not jacking Bad Boy twelves. This one features an entire lift from Yarborough & Peoples, and goes for the commercial jugular by featuring vocalist-of-the-moment Alicia Keys on the hook. Initially catchy, this one like many Gotti creations, is ultimately uninspiring.
Hold that thought for the next track – again its a Gotti rip-off joint (this time Prince’s ‘Irresistable Bitch’), and again ‘Irresistable Chick’ is largely bland from start to finish. A mixture of chimes, a rubbery bassline, and the Rogers Nelson-inspired chorus can’t disguise the fact that this is straight up boring. Eve herself doesn’t even sound interested here, a monotone flow throughout signalling how she truly feels about this joint.
Swizz Beats’ first appearance on the boards certainly improves things a little. The tropical production on ‘Party In The Rain’ complimenting Eve’s flow perfectly, and an addictive chorus from Mashonda topping things off nicely. Elsewhere, Swizz adds to his rapidly recovering reputation with the addictive ‘Double R What’, switching from a hardcore morse code-stamped beat to a floaty acoustic chorus with comfortable ease. Here, Eve links up with Ruff Ryders labelmates Jadakiss and Styles – one of the rare guest appearances on the album. This WILL appear on a thousand NY mixtapes, and rightly so. I’m feeling this in a big way.
Other strong points for the album? Well the title track is a heater for starters. Teflon take credit for the futuristic production here – a barrage of electronics, echoes and rumbling bass, that owes a huge debt to the Neptunes techniques. Its obviously aimed at clubs and cars, and when shit sounds this good, the generic lyrics that Eve spits can be overlooked a little. Bangin’. Also worth checking out is ‘Figure You Out’. You always know what you’re gonna get with a Trakmasterz joint, and again Tone and Poke don’t disappoint – an addictive Spanish guitar dominates this cut providing an unofficial followup to R Kelly’s ‘Fiesta’ remix. The only complaint here is that the vocals are mixed a little too low. Finally, another track worthy of your attention is ‘Let You Go’. Its another acoustic summery number, that musically is at a little odds with Eve’s acid-tinged delivery towards her ex-squeeze… somehow it works though, and is worth rewinding for follow up listens.
The strong tracks however are tempered with the appearance of several weaker joints. Dre’s earlier excellent work is undone with ‘Satisfaction’, a slow plodder that features little more than the same short guitar lick looped ad infinitum – think ‘Let Me Blow Your Mind’ with LESS going on in the background. Dull as ditchwater. The pedestrian ‘Neckbones’ does little to improve situations, and the presence of Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg on ‘Hey Y’all’ is token at best. Snoop’s uninspired verse should have Eve’s accountants chasing a refund on his appearance money while Nate does little but rehash every other verse he’s moaned on during the past two years. BOR-ING! ‘As I Grow’ comes off as an attempt to cover the same ground that Jigga and DMX regularly stand on – that whole artist-in-ghetto-breaks-out-but-still-got-time-for-my-street-niggas steelo. R Kelly is surely also owed some money here too – isn’t that his children’s choir singing on the hook? Damn, they ARE busy at the minute.
So… third time lucky? Yes and no. “Eve-olution” is definitely more listenable and a lot more accessible than the two previous albums, but it also lacks a cutting edge – preferring to tread on the safe ground of big name producers and catchy track. Yes it will sell out the ass, but who’s really gonna be returning to it for further listens in a couple of month’s time, never mind in a year? Not me. An improvement… an evolution even – but still some way to go.