Lady Sovereign (Lady Sov if you’re nasty; Louise Harman if you’re her parents) arrives on American shores behind a mountain of hype taller than she is. Pint-sized but big-mouthed, this latest British hip-hop export is the newest face in Jay-Z’s galaxy of petite female stars (oh, whither Rihanna?), a foul, verbally agile hybrid marrying the hostile intensity of fellow grime star Dizzee Rascal with the playful vulgarity of Eminem. Blogs, music mags, and snarky websites have been salivating over Lady Sovereign ever since her impressive appearances on 2005’s Run The Road compilation and her debut EP, Vertically Challenged. Expanding to her full-length debut, Public Warning, she slams Kate Moss barely two minutes into “9 To 5” and takes a swipe at Chingy’s “Right There” in “Random,” proving that, if nothing else, she’s an equal opportunity offender. For all of her aggressive posturing, Lady Sovereign taps into an unnervingly keen sense of pop theatricality, fairly undermining her tough rep as a gifted street urchin; her raps are occasionally impenetrable but that’s due more to her accent than tongue-twisting rhymes. The slick, flashy façade that renders tracks like the predictable “Love Me Or Hate Me” and the bland title cut seemingly hollow detracts from the obvious skill of the self-proclaimed “biggest midget in the game,” making Public Warning less of an instant classic and more of a promise of things to come.
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