Lady Sov-ereign: Public Warning

By Chris Pacifico

As a wee lad, I kind of got the idea that England was a land where politeness and manners reigned supreme, mostly through the British etiquette videos that my grade school home economics teacher made our class watch as well as all those regal photos of the royal family and the suaveness exhibited by Sean Connery in the early 007 films (even though he's technically Scottish). When my early teens rolled around, all such inaccurate assumptions I had made of UK culture being so stuffy were put to rest as I discovered the Clash, the Sex Pistols, Monty Python flicks, and plenty of Benny Hill reruns. However, after visiting England and even living there for a summer, it became apparent that most British women, no matter who they are or where they're from, have always contained a ladylike disposition in some way or another, be they getting rowdy at the pub or having a serious conversation. Even film buffs are aware of such a classy female poise portrayed in the wide array of roles played by the older generation of British actresses like Vanessa Redgrave and Helen Mirren or today's starlets like Kate Winslet and Rachel Weisz.

The nineteen-year-old Lady Sovereign (nee Louise Harman) has changed all that for me on her debut Public Warning with such lyrics as, "I ain't got the biggest breast-ises/But I write all the best hits/I got hairy armpits/but I don't walk around like this/I wear a baggy t-shirt that hides all that nasty shit." It's not just Sovereign's chirpy and sometimes snarling accented voice that makes her a charm, but also how she defies and takes jabs at what the formalities of being a female pop star are to be and claims that she isn't pretty and can't even sing while disclosing her love of playing video games, drinking beer, and delving into an array of topics in her songs such as piss-covered toilet seats. She is rude, but her rudeness comes natural; she doesn't feign it merely for shock value (i.e. Eminem).

Having dropped out of school at the age of fifteen and been raised on the rough streets of Northwest London on a council estate (British term for housing project), Lady Sovereign has released the only hip-hop full-length that has been worth the wait in 2006. Having impressed CEO Jay Z himself to become the first non-American female on the Def Jam label, Public Warning is pavement on the road for the Grime genre of hip hop on a trial started by her countrymen Dizzee Rascal and The Streets.

Produced by Basement Jaxx, Public Warning's beats consist of wobbly and wafting helpings of thick bass and elements of techno, two-step, IDM, and jungle. The openers "9 to 5" and "Gatheration" are the highlight of the year for those with top-of-the-line car stereo systems, as a kitschy merger of punk attitude and G-funk are spliced on the title track. A two-step go-go beat makes for igniting the club floor with "Hoodie," and Sov gives civic props with "My England" while chiding the long arm of the law in London for replacing truncheons with guns and being under constant surveillance.

One thing about Lady Sovereign is that she's not just some hip-hop flavor of the month like most American rappers her age, who get their fifteen minutes from a one-hit wonder track with a catchy hook. Remember the hype given to that dude who sang "Errrrrr-body in the club get tipsay!"? Chances are that he's probably washing lettuce at your local Applebee's.

The beats are the foundation of what makes Public Warning a great listen since they can keep afloat with Sovereign's lyrical execution, which is anti-social, mischievous, and naturally crude. With all the shrink-wrapped music out there these days, it's nice to see hip-hop given the good tongue-lashing from across the pond that it's needed for some time now.

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[Published on: 11/15/06]

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shainhouse starstarstarstarstar Wed 11/15/2006 11:40AM
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I love this album. Thanks fo reviewing it.

buddha22 starstarstarstar Wed 11/15/2006 12:08PM
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This is a good review of the album. I like it as well. However, I saw her live show at Lollapalooza and it was TERRIBLE. Judging from the mass exodus by my fellow festivalers, I wasn't the only one who thought so. It was easily the worst performance of the weekend. That said, she's young and maybe just needs some more time to fine tune her live stuff, cuz she's got skills for sure.
Should this article even be on Jambase? It's obvious that this website is branching out attempting to include a larger fanbase. Can you blame them. They get paid for amount of hits. Kids from all clicques hit up this website now because its so damned convenient to find local shows. The secret is out and Jambase is doing what any smart enterprising website would do. I am not saying they are selling out, but they are going a tad MTV on us.
Whatever, thanks jambase.

Kindskatz Wed 11/15/2006 01:03PM
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Decent review but I personally thought the album was nothing special. The Vertically Challenged EP from last year was better. This kid's clearly got talent. She's got a good flow and a great voice. Definitely the best of the British "grime" MC's. She needs some work but there is some promise here....

krsmall Wed 11/15/2006 05:38PM
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shes cool short and rocks.

Marksy Thu 11/16/2006 09:11AM
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May God have mercy on those saying positive things about Lady Sovereign.

STEG187 Wed 11/22/2006 11:41AM
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This album and artist is weak.
Good attempt at spreading the wings of the Jambase readership though.

"Whiff..." (c) Keith Olberman

Lupinemutton starstar Sun 12/3/2006 03:00PM
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Why does every hiphop article have to be accompanied by people crying about "Why is this on Jambase?"
Stop crying.
It's okay.
If you don't like it... don't read it.
The reason it's on here is because most people interested in good music have open minds and eclectic taste. If you don't, then respect those who might have broader horizons than you and bite your tongue.

mrkrinkle6884 star Mon 12/4/2006 09:53AM
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her music sucks along with her lyrics..... she should be banished from music

MelbaToast starstarstarstarstar Tue 12/12/2006 08:38PM
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right on vulpinemutton!
Hey I love Lady Soveriegn...but wait, if she sucks, then I must have horrible taste in music...which means Widespread Panic and Phish and Miles Davis must all suck too-
Wait, mabey it's just the haters that suck...
As Lady S. so gracefully puts it: "If you love me then, Thank you! If you hate me then F*** you!"

Native51 Sat 1/13/2007 10:26PM
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If you like this chicks music you need to figure out why your head is so far up your own ass, then remove your head from your ass, listen again to be sure you still like it and if so you have just realized your idea of good music is rediculouse and laughable. This is why I hate the radio, they will allow themselves to subject us to this horrible shit. I can only imagine being a quality, hard working band that doesnt get paid shit, and have to whatch this bitch being paid more than all of your band put together. If you agree with this comment than thankyou, of you dont agree than fuck you, and congrats your an idiot.