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[Off The Record]
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(Ruff Ryders/Interscope)

Despite her boasts of female independence, Eve’s debut album, 1999’s double-platinum Let There Be Eve: Ruff Ryders’ First Lady, felt more like a side project of DMX’s jumpy Ruff Ryders crew than a true solo work — steered by in-house beatmaker Swizz Beatz, it featured plenty of thuggish gun talk and guest spots from Ruff Ryders’ second-stringers. This self-proclaimed " pit bull in a skirt " attempts to break away from the Ryders’ aggro street stylings on her sophomore disc, Scorpion, by bringing in outside producers and far-flung collaborators, plus trying her hand at singing.

For the most part, it’s a change for the better. Dr. Dre’s coolly stalking beat on " That’s What It Is " provides a nice respite from Swizz Beats’ fractured Casio belch and Latin-derived club cuts. Gwen Stefani brings some lung power to " Let Me Blow Ya Mind. " And Teena Marie takes the unrestrained pathos of " Life Is So Hard " into the stratosphere. But Eve’s singing on a remake of Dawn Penn’s reggae classic " No, No, No " is barely passable. And when she tries to keep up with Da Brat and Trina on the freaky " Gangsta Bitches, " she comes off like the most prudish and least talented MC of the three. The obligatory posse cuts ( " Scream Double R " and " Thug in the Street " ) are fine if you like the Ryders’ howling-at-the-moon theatrics, but the salsafied first single, " Who’s That Girl? " , and the twee closer, " Be Me, " befit an MC who likes Gucci, not gats.


Issue Date: March 22 - 29, 2001

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