Eve, The First Lady Of Rap

Rapper Eve Jihan Jeffers likes a good dare. When she was in the ninth grade, a schoolmate dared her to dye her hair blond, and Eve couldn't resist the challenge. "I was like, I can do that--no problem," remembers the 20-year-old Philadelphia native with a roll of her eyes. "I did dye it and went to school the next day and blew everybody away. I've always been that girl--the girl who was going to do what she was going to do no matter what."

A few weeks ago that girl, with her cropped, still-blond hair, did what no female rapper has done before when her album "Eve" entered the charts at No. 1. While her climb to the top may seem as if it happened overnight, Eve has been around for a while. "I was a stripper for a minute and made some good money, but I knew that wasn't me," says Eve. "A lot of my friends were, like, 'What are you doing? You got talent on the mike. Put it to use'."

After high school, Eve concentrated on her writing and rhyming, and eventually came to the attention of rap superstar Dr. Dre. "I signed with Dr. Dre's label," Eve remembers, "but the album never came out. I was totally discouraged." After moping around the house a few months, Eve met up with the mega MC forces behind the Ruff Ryders crew, a group that included the platinum-selling DMX. Soon Eve's smooth, rhapsodic voice was lacing tracks for the Roots' "You Got Me" and Blackstreet's "Girlfriend/Boyfriend." But it's on the Ruff Ryders' compilation album that the blond bombshell really explodes with the slickest track, "What Ya'll Want." "I'm the only girl in the group, so I'm like the queen and I get my way," she says with a laugh.

Eve's debut hit album features tracks about rape and domestic violence. "Female rappers have their own stories to tell about being women. We're coming up and claiming our spot--it's our time to shine." Foxy Brown and Lil' Kim, make room.

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