Eve is sifting through tracks for her upcoming fourth album, "Here I Am," a joint effort between Dr. Dre's Aftermath/Interscope imprint and Swizz Beatz' Full Surface. Eve will put the final touches on

Eve is sifting through tracks for her upcoming fourth album, "Here I Am," a joint effort between Dr. Dre's Aftermath/Interscope imprint and Swizz Beatz' Full Surface. Eve will put the final touches on the disc by heading to the studio with Dr. Dre. Though no release date has been set, a single and music video are expected before the year is up.

Eve refers to the album's production lineup as "the hip-hop all-star team"; the list includes Pharrell Williams, Timbaland, Cool & Dre and up-and-coming producer Neo -- not to be confused with Def Jam singer/songwriter Ne-Yo. The Swizz Beatz-produced track "Tambourine" is being weighed as the potential lead single, which will follow the unofficial summer release "Cashflow" featuring T.I.

"It feels like a first album," Eve tells Billboard.com of her new offering. "I haven't been out in four years and I felt like I had to roll the dice. Why put out an album that sounds like [all the others]? I had to get out of the box -- for myself."

"Here I Am" will be Eve's first solo effort since 2002's "Eve-olution" (Ruff Ryders/Def Jam), which bowed at No. 6 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 630,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Eve describes the sound of the album as more experimental and instrument-driven. "I didn't want it to be too serious," she says. "When I get up -- no matter what time -- if I turn on music I move a little faster. If I'm driving it clears my head, so I just wanted to make a feel-good album that people can listen to and rock out to."

Eve describes the Timbaland tracks as "really out there" and along the lines of the producer's recent Hot 100 No. 1 hits, Nelly Furtado's "Promiscuous" and Justin Timberlake's "SexyBack." "All Night Long" was produced by Pharrell and finds Eve singing, something the rapper had previously been reluctant to undertake despite persuasion from her label.

"[Pharrell] made me sing a whole song. I finally got up the nerve [but] I feel like I was bullied into it," she jokes. "But it's one of my favorite songs on the album. I was really stressed about it but it was fun to do. I consider myself somebody who can maybe hold a note on a good day. I sang hooks before, which is super easy, but I had to get out of my comfort zones."

Reggae artist Sizzla is also featured on a song and Eve is currently lining up another reggae cameo. "I listen to reggae all the time. It's always been my favorite music because of the melodies," she says. "I also listen to a lot of Brazilian music [and] a little bit of rock, so I wanted to bring all those elements, along with hip-hop."

Not making a comeback this year is Eve's titular sitcom, which ran on UPN for three seasons. The rapper says she found it difficult trying to juggle both music and TV acting. "I was really excited about it but I needed to get away from it to do music 'cause there's no way you can do both," says Eve. "I'm sad on one hand 'cause I really fell in love with the cast but this is something that I really want to do. I missed music."

In addition to perusing movie scripts in search of the perfect role, Eve is also revamping her fashion line Fetish to better reflect her style, and she recently partnered with a friend to form the film production company Shape Shifters.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Print