After Eve rocked the Super Lounge stage during the ESSENCE Music Festival, one thing was quite apparent – her fans missed her dearly. Her first three albums all received critical acclaim and commercial success, but it has been 10 years since the rapper-turned-actress last released any new material. The good news: She’s promised her new album Lip Lock will hit stores this fall, and she tells us she “loves it” and the people will too.

That’s not all she loves. Eve and her longtime boyfriend, British entrepreneur and race car driver Maximillion Cooper, are still going strong. Read what E-V-E has to say about wanting a ring, her dream collaboration, and where she finds inspiration.

ESSENCE.COM: Inquiring minds want to know: when’s the new album coming out?
EVE: The album is coming out this year, for sure. It took a long time just because I wanted to make sure that it was perfect and right. I’m really happy with it. In fact, I’m more than happy with it – I love it!

ESSENCE.COM: Can we expect any surprises on Lip Lock?
EVE: You definitely will hear me evolve, and you will hear my growth. But, at the same time, I really wanted to bridge my core audience with where I am now. I didn’t want anybody to feel like they were left out. And, I think I did that.

ESSENCE.COM: Musically speaking, what haven’t you done yet that you’re looking to do in the future?
EVE: My dream collaboration is with Lauryn Hill. Is that ever gonna happen? Who knows! But there’s still a lot I feel like musically I could do.

ESSENCE.COM: What are you listening to right now?
EVE: I listen to every thing, all kinds of stuff. I’ve been obsessed with the Nas and Damian Marley record, Distant Relatives. I feel like a lot of people haven’t heard it, and it’s amazing.

ESSENCE.COM: Are you still happily in love?
EVE: I am, thankfully!

ESSENCE.COM: Will we hear wedding bells soon?
EVE: He better! (Big laughs.) Seriously! Ha! But, right now, we’re really, really happy.

ESSENCE.COM: Where have you found the most inspiration?
EVE: Well, I’ve relocated to London, so right now it’s London. I walk everywhere when I’m there. It’s so eclectic. It’s New York on steroids. There are so many cultures and sounds, and people and fashion. Chicks are so fly. I live in a neighborhood where there’s a lot of West Indian culture, so it’s nice. I have to always come back because my mother would kill me if I didn’t, but right now that’s where I’m at.

ESSENCE.COM: What does ESSENCE mean to you?
EVE: It’s news for what’s happening with us. It’s fashion, it’s news, it’s travel — it’s everything. It’s like a staple. Even my mother will call me and say, “Girl, I was on”

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