It’s relatively easy for female rappers to fall into obscurity. With hip-hop continuing to invest much less in women artists, they have to fight even harder for the longevity of some of their male peers. With social media fueling shorter attention spans for the entertainers we love, it’s not easy to bounce back after years out of the spotlight. Eve is one of the exceptions to this rule. She was just announced to be the new co-host of CBS’s daytime talk show, The Talk, replacing former host Aisha Tyler. And it’s kind of a big deal.
My earliest memories of Eve, full name Eve Jeffers Cooper, were during her time as a collaborator and “First Lady” of Ruff Ryders Entertainment, the same record label responsible for the success of DMX. She spoke out against domestic violence on her early single “Love Is Blind” and later received crossover success when she featured Gwen Stefani on “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” in 2001. She was only the third female rapper to have her album debut on the Billboard charts. Then, she followed up her musical success with a move very similar to Brandy’s. Her UPN sitcom, Eve, aired the year after she had her big film break in Barbershop.
Eventually, Eve shifted towards a less-public profile, especially after she married British entrepreneur (and millionaire) Maximillian Cooper. Since then, she has appeared in several small television roles and even released another album in 2013 before touring with Gwen Stefani last year. But in comparison to the early 2000s, Eve’s star power was slightly diminished. However, her new gig with The Talk is a certified boss move.
We all know that women of color are less likely to be offered the same opportunities as white women and men in the industry. Adding the title rapper presents another barrier. Female rappers are known for explicit musical themes, provocative personas, and aggressive lyrics, putting them squarely outside the parameters of respectability. In fact, Queen Latifah is the only other woman rapper who I can recall achieving the same kind of crossover success in the music industry. Latifah has appeared in hit sitcoms, blockbuster films, and hosted her own talk show, after starting off as an emcee in then late '80s. But she was a different kind of rapper than Eve, opting for uplifting rhymes about unity and social justice. Eve preferred to wax poetic about her relationship drama and personal competitiveness. That the latter has still managed to follow in Latifah’s footsteps proves that women can indeed do both.
Eve had this to say about her new role in an interview with People magazine, “This opportunity came and it’s something new, something exciting. It’s a new chapter in my life, so why not?” Her glow-up is a message that in 2017 women who come in rap should and can still be taken seriously as multifaceted entertainers.