In the hip-hop world, it's rare to get a woman's perspective. It's even more rare to have a woman deliver a knockout of a rap album. Ebony Eyez does both on her masterful debut album, the exceptional 7 Day Cycle.
The St. Louis rapper, who appeared in 2004 on J-Kwon's platinum Hood Hop album and in 2005 on the XXX2 soundtrack, wants her album to present a balanced look at the life of a strong, confident modern woman. "Seven is the number of completion and we're looking at the typical seven days of a woman," she explains. "It's about the typical emotions we go through in a 7 Day Cycle. I'm trying to represent and speak from a woman's point of view and let people understand everything. We've got songs for Friday and Saturday, when maybe you want to go to the club. We've got the relationship songs where everything is going bad for you. It's all about the different things women go through in seven days."
One of the best club songs of the new millennium, lead single "In Ya Face" features a thumping, infectious beat courtesy of The TrackBoyz, who produced J-Kwon's hits "Tipsy" and "Hood Hop." Ebony Eyez got the concept for monster club song after being propositioned by one too many overeager men.
"It was kind of a joke song at first," she recalls. "We were out one night at the club and this dude came up to me and was like, 'Let me see you bend over.' I was like, 'If I bend over will you let me put my ass in your face?' Then I came to the studio and I was like, 'Let me do this song.' It's not meant to be taken so literally. It's an equal opportunity song. If you think it's OK to say those kind of things to me, then I feel it's OK for me to say that."
Ebony Eyez again takes an assertive approach on "Lame Ass," another future club smash, and on "Act Like A Bitch," a defense of her self-assertiveness. "I like to be in control of things," she explains. "I don't like lame dudes coming up with no personality and no persona about himself trying to holler. So I have to tell those types of dudes to move with their lame ass. I like a strong, confident man, someone that's sure about himself. If you're not sure about yourself, you can't really go nowhere in life. You're going always be a follower, not a leader."
So it should come as no surprise that Ebony Eyez takes the lead and dismisses a no-good boyfriend on "Take Me Back." Ebony Eyez explains the reasons for her dissolution of the relationship through the smooth song, which was inspired by her real-life experiences. "I've been in a few bad relationships with a few brothers that should have done things a certain way and didn't," she says. "Now they want to call me and ask them to take me back. No, it's not happening and I'm going to tell you why I'm not going take you back. I'm going to start from the beginning and on the last verse, I'm speaking to the women and giving them instructions on how they should do it."
Elsewhere, Ebony Eyez details a loving relationship on the smooth "Hot Chick" and hits her creative apex on "Dear Father," an impassioned, guitar-driven song she wrote as if she were talking to God. On the emotional song, she frankly discusses the failing health of family members, her financial struggles and her relationship problems. "It's a real look at how my life is at the moment," she says. "A lot of people think everything changes overnight once you get a record deal. I'm trying to let it be known that it's not the case. It means that you've got to work harder when it happens. I'm still dealing with the same problems, driving the same car, living in the same place right now. I was up late one night and started feeling the urge to write. I had the track already and I felt like I needed to write a letter to God right now."
With so many different sounds and musical feels on 7 Day Cycle, it is no wonder that Ebony Eyez often vibes off the beat before she starts writing her lyrics. "I like to listen to the beat and let it talk to me," she says. "It gives me the instructions of what to do with the song a lot of times. I make sure that I flow for a minute, but I always kind of go somewhere else for a few bars to make sure that I keep people's attention. I like to give people that like to really hear lyrics something and then people who don't really pay attention to lyrics sometimes."
Born and raised in St. Louis, Ebony Eyez has been a microphone fiend since she was a child. By age 9, she was already in a local group and spent most of her free time practicing her rapping and dancing skills. The group never took off, but after a few years off from music, she resumed writing lyrics.
Ebony Eyez then tried college, but music was still calling her. She formed a rap duo with another female rapper, but her partner in rhyme soon deserted. Ebony Eyez decided that was a sign to push even harder to reach her dream of rap stardom.
"I realized that I had put so much time and energy into this and I'm not the type of person that can do something and just give up on it," she says. "I'm too stubborn for that, so I was like, 'It's time to go hard.' I just went hard with it."
Through a mutual friend, Ebony Eyez got in touch with rising music executive Big Bob, who was managing J-Kwon. Bob reconnected her with her friends The TrackBoyz, then riding high thanks to their work with J-Kwon. The TrackBoyz were impressed with Ebony's work and started recording with her.
Ebony's energetic rhymes earned her slots on J-Kwon's platinum Hood Hop album and the XXX2 soundtrack. Now, with the buzz surrounding "In Ya Face" and 7 Day Cycle building, Ebony Eyez is ready to show why she's the first female rapper from St. Louis to break nationally.
"I'm trying to stand on my own two feet," she says. "I'm raw, real and ready to show what I've got. I'm trying to make a statement."