20 Years Later: Does Eve’s Scorpion Still Have its Sting?
As the new millennium rolled in, female hip-hop was at a strong standing point due to the contributions of artists including Lauryn Hill, Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown. The baton was eventually passed to a young Philadelphia starlet by the name of Eve Jihan Jeffers Cooper. Lauded as the leading lady of the record collective, Ruff Ryders, Eve’s legendary stint in the music industry broke the boundaries of what a woman was expected to look and sound like.
On March 6, 2001, the underground female artist finally reached commercial success after the release of her second studio album, Scorpion. The sophomore album exceeded the label’s expectations and solidified Eve as a household name.
Twenty years later, Eve is almost unrecognizable compared to the “Philly Chick” that we grew up with. Although she spends the majority of these days doubling as an actress and talk show hostess, Eve’s musical comeback has been on the mind of hip-heads across the world. Fortunately for them, Eve decided to come back into the genre with a bang on March 6, 2021. To honor the 20th anniversary of the rapper’s platinum-selling album, Interscope re-released a digital deluxe reissue of Scorpion along with four new remixes.
Looking back on Eve’s 20-year milestone, we wanted to re-review the album that pushed Eve’s career into the mainstream and further learn why she is still one of the most respected female rappers to date.
Raised in a single-family household in the projects, Eve learned her independent ways from her hardworking mother. To escape her rough Philly upbringing, she followed her estranged father’s footsteps and found an outlet in music. Leading ladies like Queen Latifah, Salt-N-Pepa and MC Lyte, inspired Eve to push the boundaries of rap as a female artist. Eve sought out ways to make herself stand apart from the lineup of males performing at the local ciphers.
Feeling discouraged after her high school graduation, Eve put down the microphone and started working at the strip club for two months. After an encounter with Bad Boy artist Mase, Eve was fully convinced to leave the spot to pursue her rapping career. She reconnected with her previous manager who hooked her up with an audition for Dr. Dre’s label, Aftermath Entertainment. She earned a deal with the West Coast producer and made her way to Los Angeles. Her experience, however, proved to be a big step back, as Eve’s projects were continuously shelved in favor of the then-up-and-coming artist, Eminem.
Sadly, she was officially dropped from the label and moved back to Philly after only eight months. Not all was lost, as she impressed another big name in music. Jimmy Iovine, who was the Co-Founder and Chairman of Interscope Records, redirected Eve’s manager to head to Yonkers, the home of the Ruff Ryders. In a room surrounded by her future label mates (all men) and CEO, Joaquin “Waah” Dean, Eve maintained her swag and earned her spot as the frontwoman of the label by participating in a gritty rap battle. As the first female in the company, Eve was able to keep up with the boys due to her drive, stability and demand for respect. Months after participating in the label’s artist and producer boot camps, she secured the respect of her peers and released her debut album called Let There Be Eve…Ruff Ryders’ First Lady on September 14, 1999.
Straying away from the “sex sells” maneuver, Eve’s first album was reflective and tackled issues from her past like growing up in a low-income area and escaping domestic abuse. Mentally worn down by the stressful pace of her career and industry games, she took a much-needed break and dropped from the album’s collaborative tour with Cash Money Records. In her return, Eve had to face the music to prove she wasn’t just another one-hit-wonder. Critics questioned if she could come back on top and become the commercial success she was destined to be. All the speculation came to a halt when she released her second album, Scorpion.
“Thought I wasn’t followin’ up with the second round
Now bitch, swallow it up while I shove it down.”
Eve had something to prove and she continuously ridicules naysayers and critics who cross-examined the longevity of her career in her sophomore album. Often called “The Pitbull in a Skirt,” Eve’s known for her hardcore lyrics and straightforward swag. Don’t let her slick demeanor fool you: while she is a pretty face, those tattooed paws on her chest are a warning sign that she’s not the lady to mess with. Her bark may be as equally bad as her bite, as Eve hops on the album reclaiming her respect within the first couple of minutes of the 16-song collection. Kicking off Scorpion, with her welcome back demanding number “Cowboy” is quickly reminded everyone of why she is a star.
Continuing to shine a light on female independence, Eve also created the taunting track “You Had Me, You Lost Me,” in response to a man who lost a good thing. Differing from her first project, Scorpion gained Eve crossover success by highlighting an array of genres. Audiences can groove to the island vibes of her reggae remix “No, No, No” featuring Damian Marley & Stephen Marley and even party Westcoast style to the Dre produced beat “That’s What It Is”. She also makes her industry testimony apparent in other songs like “Be Me” and “Got What You Need”. However, these tracks were incomparable to the next two singles.
Her boss b*tch anthem “Who’s that Girl” became the soundtrack of females everywhere in the 2000s. Eve’s voice has been known for having the ability to be both melodic and taxing, offering audiences a harmonic duet experience from one talented artist. The label was still looking for something that would set this album apart from its predecessor! They tapped into Iovine, who reunited Eve with Dr. Dre for the album’s last recorded hit “Let Me Blow Your Blind.” By adding Gwen Stefani to the mix, the collaborative song made some noise and became recognized as one of the most successful cross-genre hits of all time. In 2002, the duo even earned a Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.
Unlike other female rappers at this time, Eve made sure her music carried a larger-than-life message. If you aren’t a fan of female-empowering anthems, Scorpion may not be the album for you. Eve’s vigorous pursuit of equality doesn’t grow tiresome, as her charisma and cocky attitude leave us wanting more of the Philly artist. The one thing this album truly needed to further cement itself in history was more surprises and smoother transitions. The production switch between Swizz Beatz and Dr. Dre was almost underwhelming compared to each man’s success today! Luckily, Eve’s sharp lyrics and breathwork carry the beats and breaks her out of the album’s slower parts. Eve continued sharing the same message and even enlisted a couple of friends to help including Da Brat, Trina and even Teena Marie. 20-years-later, Scorpion still lives up to its lyrical hype and meets the expectations of the Ruff Ryders’ prestigious catalog.