Eve-Olution (Ruff Ryders)

Eve has some good shit. She has sass. She has style. She has the crown on her head that says she's hip-hop's latest queen. But she also has a problem on her new album. She has settled so comfortably into the role of pop's cameo girl that she's lost some of her bite. She still has the best female flow in the biz, and Eve-Olution is still gangsta at its base, but nothing here, on her third album, slams itself against you like "Let Me Blow Ya Mind," last year's duet with Gwen Stefani.

The Philly rapper spits her rhymes aggressively, towering over the high-profile guests (Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, and Jadakiss are all but lost in the mix). She's that forceful, sexy, and compelling. But there's idleness to Eve-Olution. Even its two key cuts -- "Gangsta Lovin'" with Alicia Keys and "What" with Truth Hurts -- sound weary. Regrettably, Eve's become a star. And she plays the role well. But this hardcore street chick isn't as irresistible as one song proclaims, and as she thinks. There's a repetitiveness that sinks into Eve-Olution about midway, and the beats are often only as good as their architects (Swizz Beatz and Dr. Dre dominate). Eve's skills are there, but they are at risk of eve-aporating.

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