Don't be fooled by the title into expecting big changes in Eve's hip-pop flavor. Rife with guest appearances and smooth production, "Eve-olution" follows the pattern that has worked so well on her previous releases, with the only modification being a ratcheting up of the pop/R&B quotient.
The poppiest cut is "Gangsta Lovin' " with Alicia Keys. It's very much cut from the same cloth as Eve's 2001 duet with Gwen Stefani, "Let Me Blow Ya Mind." Almost as smooth, but with a bit more of a club feel, is "Irresistible Chick," a groove built on top of Prince's "Irresistible [Expletive]." The slow bounce of "Hey Y'All" is a catchy head bobber featuring verses from Snoop Dogg and a chorus from Nate Dogg (is there an album Nate doesn't show up on? Studio time with the Dixie Chicks is probably already booked on his PDA). The song is likable if a little too familiar.
Dr. Dre produces a winner with the old school feel of "Satisfaction," featuring a stripped-down big beat over which Eve raps about men ("Most dudes is okay / Half of the rest ain't / Talking about what they wanna do / Reality is they can't").
"Double R What," with appearances by Jadakiss and Styles, has a rawer feel, but that's partly because it's based on a sample from one of the original gangstas, Schoolly D's "P.S.K. What Does It Mean?" Still, the grittier sound is a nice change of pace. And Truth Hurts perfectly complements Eve's rap on "What," one of the most hardcore joints on the disc, with her chorus of "It ain't hard to tell / That you just been done."
The beauty is that Eve will make it sound good while she does it, and debating about whether getting slicker constitutes evolving is just quibbling.
-- Curt FieldsAppearing Friday at Dream. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Eve, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8109. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)