Rap fans, you can exhale. The female pit bull in a skirt, E-V-E is back with a new album and a partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters.  Philadelphia native Eve Jihan Jeffries, now 34, left a void in rap music when she put her rap career aside for a decade after 2002’s “Eve-olution.” By then, she’d scored a Grammy with Gwen Stefani for “Let Me Blow Your Mind” and was one of rap’s reigning queens.  Eve enjoyed a successful film and TV career starring in her own self-titled show on UPN for three seasons and then appearing in movies like “Barbershop 2” and “XXX.”

Now she’s back with “Lip-Lock,” due out May 14. Her single “Make It Out This Town” will be part of the promotion of Big Brothers Big Sisters’ National Mentoring Month. Some proceeds from the single will go to the organization, which pairs young men and women with adult mentors. With Eve’s participation, Big Brothers Big Sisters hopes to foster further awareness of the difference mentoring can make in young people’s lives. We caught up with Eve to find out just what we can expect from her new CD and also…. who’s that English bloke we keep hearing about?

Blackamericaweb.com: What made you want to join up with Big Brothers and Big Sisters?

Eve: I’d heard of Big Brothers Big Sisters and I know the kind of work that they do.  I love being able to give back. So why not join up with them? It felt right, right now and I’m really happy.

Blackamericaweb.com: The single you’re announcing in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters, “Make It Out this Town”,  seems to reference not just physically leaving your hometown but leaving behind a certain mentality that can come with staying in one place.

Eve: Absolutely.  I wouldn’t want to be from any other city but Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It made me who I am. But it’s also making it out of this place in life, this mentality, this darkness. The song embodies all of that. That was the next single anyway. The fact that this partnership came about and that the song fit, that wasn’t even planned.  So it just made it perfect.

Blackamericaweb.com: Have you had inspirational mentors in your own life?

Eve: Mentoring is extremely important. There are a lot of children out there who don’t have anyone to talk to or rely on or that support them. I was very, very lucky.  My mother is my rock and she always had my back. But she was a single mom, and if she knew about Big Brothers Big Sisters, I’m sure she would have gotten me involved.

Blackamericaweb.com: Have you had mentors in the business?

Eve: There are some people in the business that would drop a jewel on me or check up on me. Queen Latifah is one of those people. Ice Cube he gave me some advice. Snoop Dogg is another one. I was lucky in that aspect.

Blackamericaweb.com: How do you determine what you associate yourself with? Obviously there are companies that could pay you a lot of money to associate with their brand.

Eve: Everything can’t be about the payday. Ultimately you have to do things your heart tells you to do. It can’t always be about how much money you want to go into your account. Most times if you just take the check, you’re not going to be fulfilled by it. I want to be fulfilled. I want to learn some things. I want to actually volunteer. Although I know what the organization is, hearing about it from people who have actually been helped by the organization [inspired me.] It felt right in my heart to do it.

Blackamericaweb.com: People are so happy you’re back. When is the CD coming and what can we expect from you this time out?

Eve: The CD is called “LipLock” and it comes out May 14th. I’m excited about it. It’s been a looong time since I’ve been out but I’m ready and just as hungry as I was first time around.

Blackamericaweb.com: Things in hip-hop really went left while you’ve been gone. Did you want to come back because you felt like it was time to represent better for female rappers?

Eve: Music is cyclical. Times change. The stuff that’s out – some of it I like. But there is too much testosterone in the game. I do think there is a void for a certain type of woman or female. There’s a voice that’s not being heard. Not everyone likes the fantasy kind of thing. People want reality in their life. People want to feel feelings and know about problems and hear stories about real life and I think that’s what’s lacking and that’s what’s missing. Hopefully I can break through and be that voice. I always thought I was a regular around-the-way chick with a great job.

Blackamericaweb.com: Who’s on the record and who are you collaborating with?

Eve: I didn’t want it to be a whole name driven project. There’s a kid named Jukebox, a kid named Radio, a kid named Snow. Swizz Beatz. Chrisette Michele and Dawn Richard are on it. Juicy J and Pusha T are on the remix to “She Bad Bad.”

Blackamericaweb.com: Are you still down with Ruff Ryders?

Eve: I always tell people Ruff Ryders is like the Mafia. You can never really leave. It’s like La Familia. (laughs) But this is on my personal label distributed through Sony Red. It’s me and that feels really good.

Blackamericaweb.com: Your love life, past and present, is making the news lately. How’s it going with the Englishman? (Eve is dating multimillionaire entrepreneur Maxmillion Cooper, who runs Gumball 3000, a race car team and creative enterprise. And yes, he’s a white Brit.)

Eve: It’s good. It’s different. I don’t even know how we wound up together. I really don’t. But it works and we’re happy and it’s really good and it’s nice. I love him.

Blackamericaweb.com: So how does that work? Doesn’t he live in London?

Eve: Well, I live in London. I’m back to New York for the album.  We were long distance for a while, though. It wasn’t just for him. I needed it artistically but now I’m ready to be back in New York.

Blackamericaweb.com: Your old boyfriend Stevie J. has been making headlines. That was years ago, now but were there any clues back then?

Eve: We had a good time. But unfortunately, yes. I must have just been too young and too blind. It is what it is. I was a young girl with that situation. But yeah, there were signs. (Laughs).

Blackamericaweb.com: Reports were that you were pregnant near the end of last year.

Eve: I do have a due date! It’s May 14 for the album.

(Photo: Retna)

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