Im not just a grime artist, I just happen to rhyme with my words and have a flow like. Thus spake Lady Sovereign the diminutive London MC whos about to make some noise in this country on the phone from London. Fellow Brit-hopper M.I.A. has also resisted the grime tag, perhaps because that subgenre (East End hip-hop also including Dizzee Rascal and The Streets) has, so far, not broken through stateside. That could change with Sov, who was handpicked for her American debut by new Island/Def Jam prez Jay-Z himself.But, grime aside, Lady Sov has a problem with the current state of hip-hop in general: Its repetitive, theres like three different drum patterns. Do something new, man! With Vertically Challenged the new EP that shows off her gravelly voice weaving through bouncy U.K. garage-style beats she aims to do just that.While rappers over here pledge fealty to the hood, Sovs nostalgic for her now-razed housing project in northwest London. It was massive blocks of flats like cardboard boxes it was rough but I fuckin loved it, man everyone was quite united and everyone knew each other. You could do what the fuck you wanted to and get away with it, because back then there werent police anywhere. I think they were too scared to come in.Sovs LP, Public Warning (due out on Def Jam in March), does Vertically one better: Its got hip-hop, punk, ska and all the sounds from Sovs youth which, given that shes only 20, wasnt so long ago. Music was everywhere and the walls were like paper in the estates anyway, so you could hear whatever the neighbors were playing. She nods to those days on Fiddle With the Volume, a banger that ends with the landlord leaving an irate message while she and her mates share a laugh.Jay-Z flew Sov out to New York to sign her personally, but dont get it twisted: Hova aint pulling her strings Svengali-like. Fuck that, man I dont care who he is, he aint doing nothing to change me, she says. You know Im not one of those people that goes [affecting prissy voice] Yeah, Ill do this, Ill do this. I do things at my own pace, how I want to do them no disrespect to anyone. Sovs attitude, her outsider status and her skin color could all lead one to wonder: Has Jay-Z discovered the long-awaited female Eminem? Possibly. Shes got the sense of humor for it, anyway. While most hustlers in this country take themselves too seriously, Sovereign never loses that British wit even her EPs title is a self-deprecating joke. (Sovereign stands at 5-foot-1.) Thats cause Im comfortable wif myself, she says. Theres people shorter than me, but sometimes I just feel like Im trapped in this midget body.
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