Lady Sovereign, Vertically Challenged

Amelia Raitt

By Amelia Raitt

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

With the clipped delivery of a dancehall toaster and the warped rhythms of the London underground, 19-year-old Lady Sovereign (nee Louise Harman) defies every last hip-hop stereotype. She's a white British female MC who was three when Straight Outta Compton was released and who scored her first big gig not via a series of mixtapes, but through a "Stay in School!" edu-doc shot by a local teen group. Nevertheless, Sovereign exceeds her humble beginnings with a nimble tongue, effortless charisma and a smartass sense of humor. It's a double-edged sword when the press heaps praise, but Sovereign proves worthy of the accolades. The singles gathered here are master classes in attitude: the rowdy banger "Random" finds her ribbing both Ludacris and Chingy over springing, rubbery beats while "Fiddle With the Volume" gives her ample room to sneer and stalk. The rhythms conjured by DJ Medysyn are eerie and icy, but Sov's cheeky delivery injects the songs with spirit and spunk.