Rapper Eve Returns With New Album

In a genre known for being dominated by men, rapper Eve is a rarity.

Few females in hip-hop have been as commercially successful as Eve, who claims lucrative album sales, recording contracts, product endorsements and awards, just like her superstar male counterparts.

The Philadelphia-born performer's success was built during the last eight years, beginning with her 1999 debut album, "Let There Be Eve...Ruff Ryders' First Lady."

With it she became only the second woman to enter the Billboard 200 chart at No. 1, which was a major accomplishment for the lone female in the previously all-male rap squad Ruff Ryders.

New Album

Now, after a five-year musical hiatus, 28-year-old Eve has released "Here I Am," and is signed to Dr. Dre's Aftermath record label.

According to her Web site, her fourth album is more mature and adventurous than previous efforts.

The hip-hop femme fatale, born Eve Jihan Jeffers, said each album represents parts of her.

"My albums are always a reflection of where I am at a certain point in my life," Eve told ABC News. "It's somewhat like a journal or diary."

The first single off her latest effort, "Tambourine," reached No. 19 on the U.S. R&B hip-hop chart.

The album even features a departure from its predecessors with a song called "All Night Long," where the rapper showcases her vocal range by simply singing.

"I decided to sing because I wanted to try something different," Eve said. "I wasn't excited about it when [producer] Pharrell first suggested it to me, but now it's one of my favorite songs."

Fans have eagerly awaited her new album, but as one of the few women in hip-hop, her musical journey has not been easy.

"It was difficult because I had to work 10 times harder to prove that I was as good or, in some cases, better then the next guy who was sitting next to me writing," Eve said.

During her career, Eve has sold more than 4.8 million albums. And even when she hasn't released new material, Eve has stayed on the pop culture radar by working with other artists like Gwen Stefani and Alicia Keys.

Hip-Hop Nation

While rap and hip-hop has seen tremendous growth during the last decade-and-a-half, many artists have been criticized for their negative portrayal of women and explicit lyrics.

"Honestly, there is a lot of hip-hop out right now that I think is ridiculous," Eve said. "I am confident that the real talent and passion, and the attention to real lyrics will come back. I hope."

But recent hip-hop album sales have been lagging. This year's sales are down 33 percent from 2006, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Eve said she believes it's a problem that's not only in hip-hop music.

"I honestly wish I knew why there was such a decline in album sales," she said. "I believe the whole of the music business is feeling it as far as sales go."

Branching Out

Eve, like other high-profile female stars Lil' Kim and Foxy Brown, had a recent brush with the law.

In April 2007, Eve was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence after a car crash. She pleaded no contest, and must wear an alcohol-detecting ankle bracelet for 45 days and attend 10 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, as well as take part in a three-month alcohol education program.

The Grammy winner, though, is focusing on the future, including several nonmusical ventures.

Eve parlayed her rap success into an acting career, starring in a television series and several films. She was featured in the "Barbershop" movies and had her own self-titled television series on UPN until 2006.

"Acting was never anything I gave thought to in the beginning, but once I started, I fell in love with it," she said. "I love both things. They are two very different artistic outlets."

She even started a fashion line called Fetish, which she plans to relaunch this year.

"I am very excited about the relaunch of Fetish," Eve said. "It is much more mature than the last time around."

Perhaps like Eve herself.

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