Ruff Ryder - 2002 - 62 minutes

Album number three and a strong-voiced individual is evolving. Always one to speak her mind, Eve bears little or no comparison to the current crop of female artists, many of which exude a purely sexual presence with music in second place. There's a distinct sense of the 'independent woman' in Eve, spitting at ex-lovers and beaming a proud persona, all the while maintaining the gloss required of a female artist.

Eve is the Dre of urban females and, despite the individualism, there are more than a couple of close collaborations on this album. It's not to compensate for a lack of expression though, rather they succeed in amplifying the delivery. Alicia Keys duets on 'Gangsta Lovin' and the two Grammy winning artists flow effortlessly through the harpsichord bounce. It's scheduled as a single release and has already peaked at Number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Also included is the Gwen Stefani number 'Let Me Blow Ya Mind' - the most commercial success to date - which also appeared on the last album 'Scorpion' (presumably a late addition). It's one of the stronger numbers and emphasises the strength of the solely female tracks.

The album is classed as mainstream hip-hop but there's so much funk here it's almost difficult to concentrate on the vocals with the synth and guitars stealing the attention on several occasions. 'Let This Go' has some catchy Spanish-guitar rhythms and 'Figure You Out' has hypnotic layers with an honest Eve on display - "Usually I'm like the bitchy type, Quick to hit 'em with ahha, yeah okay alright…" Dedicated rap followers will be intrigued to hear the Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg contribution, with Eve flaunting more bark and attitude than the two D's.

It may be 'Eve-Olution' but there's no major change here – we get the usual rhymes - but the delivery, production and character, provide the right ambience for a top notch hip-hop experience.

David Byrne

Tracklisting: Intro - What (feat. Truth Hurts) - Gangsta Lovin' (feat. Alicia Keys) - Irresistible Chick - Party In The Rain (feat. Mashonda) - Argument - Let This Go - Hey Y'all (feat. Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg) - Figure You Out - Stop Hatin (skit) Satisfaction - Neckbones - Double R What (feat. Jadakiss & Styles of the Lox) - Ryde Away - As I Grow - Eve-olution - Let Me Blow Ya Mind (feat. Gwen Stefani) - U, Me & She