Embrace Hip-Hop Womanhood By Crushing Ageism
Mic Drop is a recurring series featuring the thoughts and opinions of some of the biggest voices in classic Hip-Hop. Raw, uncut — and in their own words — these are the gems you've always wanted.
I am so lucky that I got signed to Ruff Ryders.
I didn’t really grow up with very many positive male influences in my life. Well, I did and I didn’t. I had uncles who were amazing, but they were in and out of jail. My Dad wasn’t really in my life. And I was a tomboy, as well. I ran with the boys a lot in my life. But when I got signed to Ruff Ryders, I became “Baby Sis.” And I’d never had that before. Oh shit—I’m protected? It wasn’t even so much about protection inasmuch as it was them being supportive of me and treating me like an equal. They never treated me lesser than, weaker than, or like I was “the girl.” If the boys were in the studio, Eve’s in the studio. We all gotta write. If there’s a cipher, she’s in this cipher. It was my Hip-Hop boot camp. And I needed it.
Everybody knows I was initially with Dr. Dre's label. When I got signed to Aftermath, I was 17. My managers at the time were my homies from Philly. I got signed and moved to L.A., and, I have to say — I was a nuisance. Philly girls are very feisty; I would be like “Yo—you got me out here, what’s good?” So I got dropped from Aftermath, after only being on the label like seven months or something like that.
I had a going-away party when I was leaving for L.A., and then my ass gets dropped! And I gotta go back home to my Mom’s house. I gotta catch the bus again. Devastating. People see you and are like “Oh, I thought you were in L.A.?” and “I thought you were signed?” It humbled me. I got dropped from Aftermath, but I didn’t get dropped from Interscope, and Jimmy Iovine actually was the one who was like “Yo, we've got this other label. You might be a fit for them.” I’d already hung out with DMX when he’d come to the West Coast. So that was like my peoples already!
I needed that knock-down because when I got with Ruff Ryders, I wanted it in a different way. I was like “Yo, I’m good. And I’m gonna show you how good I am.” I’m happy I got dropped. I’m happy I went back to my Mom’s house.
But I took a long break, later on. I think you just need some time. And I also think that, with women, we have the added pressure of “When are you gonna have kids?" and "When are you gonna get married?" And that added pressure of “Can I be a mom and have all of this?” And not just being a mom — also just being a woman in this business. You start to ask yourself: Can I do it all? Can I have it all consistently — like my male counterparts? Which sucks.
But I don’t think that’s just Hip-Hop and I don’t think that’s just music; I think that’s any woman who is independent and career-driven. Speaking for me—sometimes, as a woman, you have some sort of guilt, some sort of voice saying "Okay, now I’m getting older, should I chill?" Because that’s happened to me. And I went through a period where I wanted to get off of my label. Then it happened, and I was like "Oh shit — they let me go? They don’t want me no more!” I was lost. Like, what kind of music do I fucking make? Or do I even wanna make music? Does anybody want to hear my music?
I can only speak for myself, but there’s a lot there to think about.
That’s the reason I made the last album. That’s why I made Lip Lock. It was an independent situation. It was purely me. It was my money.
There was a distribution situation, and it didn’t sell that great. I put out a record a year ago called “Reload” with Konshens on the record. But I grew up with "the machine." And I didn’t want to do music, at first, unless I was signed to a major label. But with the guys, when they release music as older artists, sometimes it sells and sometimes it doesn’t, but they take a risk.
And I think sometimes as artists, we have to remember, that’s what our lives are: taking a risk and being vulnerable and putting stuff out there. But it’s hard. Sometimes it’s hard.
I do think there is a lane and a space for rappers of a certain age. "Adult contemporary" Hip-Hop? I'm all for it.
I obviously know that popular music — because that’s now what a lot of Hip-Hop is; it’s really pop, everything’s crossover, at this point — so, of course, a lot of it is younger. And a lot of it I bop to! Like, I ain’t mad at it — a lot of it, I fuck with! That’s why I think people do love Jay-Z, because — yes, he is older, yes, he is "mature," but he is putting people on to certain things. And I do think there is a lane for that.
When you look at rock or a lot of other genres, they never age out. Why is it that they’re allowed to get older? Why is it that rock or country or many other genres are allowed to literally make records until they die? Earth Wind & Fire — I could go to a concert right now! And if they put something out, you’re so happy to hear it and you bop. With Hip-Hop, there’s this attitude that you’re done at a certain age. But there is a lane. There’s a few artists who are out — whether they admit to their age or not — that are of a certain age. So hopefully it continues.
We got shit to say!
* Banner Image: Eve performs onstage in London, England. (Photo by Ollie Millington/Redferns)