On one hand, Lip Lock is Eve’s long awaited follow-up to her Eve-Olution album that she released eleven years. While a lot of other rappers would have given up with music and went a different route, Eve isn’t about to give up. In fact, she sounds as great as she always has and she definitely shows the void in female rappers in today’s mainstream hip-hop scene. Lip Lock (From The Rib/RED) has her catering to perceived modern tastes, so musically this is not the Eve of 2002. This is Eve 2013 style, with her rhyming over modern hip-hop and even a few dubstep songs, and yet through it all, it still sounds like the standards Eve created for herself. She’s never been afraid of merging with pop, as her duet with Gwen Stefani showed, and if she were to ever do a track with Lady Gaga, it would sound like “Keep Me From You” which features former Danity Kane member Dawn Richard in the Gaga role. While Snoop Dogg is listed in the assistance of “Mama In The Kitchen”, his contribution is limited to repeating the song title and three extra words. That’s it, no special verse or anything and with Eve proclaiming that she’s the lioness, it would have been perfect if Snoop brought his Snoop Lion persona to the song. No such luck. The instrumental sounds like indie rock chopped samples mixed in with a synthesized college band horn section. It may come off as a musical oxymoron but the vibe blends well, thanks to producer Swizz Beatz. Or since “Forgive Me” has a nice reggae vibe to it, maybe Snoop would have been welcome to drop a verse there, but with a lyric where she refers to having a “fire chocha”, one can only imagine how Snoop would’ve followed that up. “All Night” is a nice one produced by The Neptunes, in their trademark style of creating fantastic sounds that may come off as familiar but is definitely not.
“Grind Or Die” sounds like something Diplo would have thrown her way, but by this point in the album, it comes off like classic Eve with the kind of music she could have easily been doing in the last eleven years. Maybe she wanted to avoid overkill or watering down her music (or simply wanted to take a break from music), but the album credits say some of these songs date themselves as far back as 2007. Even if they are from that time period, they aren’t dated by any means. (Then again, we’re also not sure how these songs were tweaked to make them song more now than then.) The album ends with a remix of “She Bad Bad” that brings in Pusha T. and Juicy J, who tear up the track nicely. While I would have preferred for Eve to close the song, Juicy J.’s verse wraps things up nicely. The song that is sure to get a lot of attention is the one with Missy Elliott and Nacho, “Wanna Be”, where Elliott splits herself up in four with a melodious voice during the chorus, and the Elliott octave divider trio that would be what it might sound like if she was each member of Outkast. The last proper song features vocalist Chrisette Michele, “Never Gone”, where Eve thanks those who have supported her over the years and while her departure seemed longer than the norm, she explains herself lyrically and with the song title. It has a nice R&B/pop feel.
The downside is that with a pop song as the album’s proper ending and a remix which closes the presentation, Lip Lock sounds like an open-ended album, or that it isn’t quite complete. Up until the end, the sequencing of the songs and the styles presented blend well as a representation of what Eve is about and how she presents herself as an artist. The music begins with the modern production styles before having her rhyme over the type of music that made her a star. Without a proper moral of the story, it lacks the kind of “fuck you” punch Eve is more than capable of delivering. A possible remedy would be for listeners to rearrange the sequence so that Lip Lock could end in fine style. Lyrically and musically, Eve is in fine form and while this album is not 100 percent perfect, it is better than 95 percent of what is being passed off as hip-hop these days.