On Saturday (Sept. 14), rapper Eve’s debut album, Let There Be Eve…Ruff Ryders’ First Lady turns 20-years-old. The album dropped in 1999 and led with Eve’s single “What Y’all Want,” which was followed by “Love Is Blind” featuring Faith Evans and  “Gotta Man” featuring Mashonda.

“Eve’s gone take it there,” Swizz Beatz can be heard saying on the opening skit, “First Lady (Skit)” of Eve’s Let There Be Eve. And Eve did just that. With her debut album, Eve covered some heavy topics such as domestic violence rape, revenge, and exotic dancing, alongside lighter content like hometown pride, being in love and broke men.

The feature heavy album saw guest appearances from Drag-On, Beanie Sigel, Missy Elliott, DMX, The Lox, P. Killer Trackz, C.J., Parle, and Swizz Beatz, who produced every track on the album with the exception of four. Let There Be Eve followed the Ruff Ryders’ formula of having their entire squad (of mostly males) featured on an album, which unfortunately overshadowed the rapper whose given name is Eve Jihan Jeffers. However, Eve shined on tracks like “Gotta Man,” “Love Is Lind,” and “Heaven Only Knows.”

On “Gotta Man” Eve joyously rapped about the excitement of having a boyfriend. “All my peoples thinkin’ I’m delirious/But the love I feel is serious/ Couples of the world, no comparin’ us/Been through fistfights with n—-s/When I see it escalate/ I’m the getaway driver so my n—- can escape,” she raps on the second verse while Mashonda sings a child-like hook. “Gotta man that I think I’m gon’ love forever. And forever, we’ll be together,” Mashonda sings about the enchantment and naivete that sometimes comes along with love.

Reminiscent of Queen Latifah’s 1993 hit “U.N.I.T.Y, ” “Love Is Blind” is a catchy song about Eve seeking revenge upon her best friend’s former boyfriend, who was severely abusive to her. “Hey, yo I don’t even know you and I hate you/See all I know is that my girlfriend used to date you/How would you feel if she held you down and raped you?/Tried and tried, but she never could escape you,” Eve raps on the track which was a huge single for Let There Be Eve.

Back in 2000, Eve and her best friend, Andrea appeared on Queen Latifah’s talk show to discuss the story behind the track that was inspired by Andrea’s abusive relationship. Although Latifah’s “U.N.I.T.Y” had touched upon domestic violence, Eve wrote an entire song responding to it, and also about a real-life person and sequences of events.

Lil Kim, a predecessor of Eve, who has stated in interviews that she’s been abused on several occasions in several different relationships has still yet to address her own experiences with domestic abuse in her records. Nicki Minaj recently revealed that she was in an abusive relationship before, and Cardi B has mentioned the same, but similar to Lil Kim, (and not that they are obligated to) neither artists have touched upon it in their music. Domestic violence is obviously a touchy subject that is often hard to address. Hence the reason that Eve’s offering of “Love Is Blind”  was so significant and brave, even if it wasn’t about her own direct experience.

Before rap’s newbies Cardi B and Kash Doll, also former exotic dancers, shared their frustration and struggles regarding previously being strippers on tracks like “Get Up 10” and “Hustla”  which have served as cautionary tales for some, Eve told her story on “Heaven Only Knows”. The song is an in-depth, vulnerable, and authentic recounting of Eve’s experience as a young stripper.

Although Eve was overshadowed on her debut album, it was standout tracks like the aforementioned that gave hip-hop and its fans a vast introduction to who the “pitbull in a skirt” was, and what value she had to add to the culture. Let There Be Eve also prepared fans for Eve’s stinging flow, charisma, and a much more well-rounded album on her sophomore offering Scorpion, where she also had many features but fortunately wasn’t overshadowed.

Below, take a look at Eve through the years.

Glennisha Morgan is a Detroit-bred multimedia journalist and writer. She writes about intersectionality, hip-hop, pop culture, queer issues, race, feminism, and her truth. Follow her on Twitter @GlennishaMorgan.

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