Today’s post is about an artist that I first heard as part of a collaborative effort called “The Battle.” Rising up from the U.K. grime scene, four MC’s known as Frost P, Zuz Rock, Shystie, and Lady Sovereign spit million mile a minute rhymes and gave hungry listeners a beefy piece of new hip hop to sink their teeth into with this song. Part of me wondered if they were pulling a Wu-Tang: coming together with the initial goal of getting recognition for each individual collaborator. Whether or not that was the original intent, it certainly got me interested in future output from the artists involved. That’s why I was busting out with joyful surprise when I happened to see an EP/DVD released by Lady Sovereign sitting on a shelf at Borders a couple weeks ago.
When I first heard Lady Sovereign rapping in “The Battle” I thought she was a young African girl. Turns out that I was right about her being young (she’s 19) and a girl, it was that part in between that was way off. I just don’t expect a waifish white girl to be rapping with that kind of accent in her voice, and I have a feeling that I’m not the only person to have such preconceptions. And I also see it as a compliment to her skills in a certain respect. If she can rap with such a unique voice at such high speeds then it shows talent.
But here’s the weird thing that takes some getting used to: it’s really strange to see those raps actually coming from her mouth. I mean she looks like a completely average, 19-year old white girl. If I walked past her on the streets, I guarantee that I would not recognize her unless she randomly burst out into song. And she’s so small to top it off, which is why her EP is called Vertically Challenged. So to see that tiny little white girl spitting out those incredibly distinctive raps just doesn’t seem normal. But if she gets popular enough stateside, then she would be a shining example of how rap can be performed by just about anybody and performed incredibly well. It doesn’t just have to be a bunch of black guys and Eminem.
Before I go even further into my tangent and start talking about Matisyahu, let’s get back on track with Lady Sovereign and her EP. If you want something engaging and different, then Vertically Challenged is something for your to buy list. One might be put off by the track listing, because of the eight songs, three of them are remixes. However, they’re not nearly as forgettable as most remixes featured on EP’s. For example, Adrock of the Beastie Boys provides listeners with a fun, pumped up remix of “A Little Bit of Shh.” And there’s enough strong, original material to make this album worthwhile if the concept of remix tracks doesn’t tickle your fancy. Songs like “Random” and the previously mentioned “A Little Bit of Shh” are particularly memorable tracks. Their grinding, bass-heavy beats may just have you out of your seat shaking that big ol’ booty of yours. But I have to say that the strongest track on this album is definitely “Ch Ching (Cheque 1-2 Remix),” which is a Lady Sovereign remix of a popular U.K. garage hit. Of all the tracks on the album, it probably has the catchiest beat and the most memorably sung rap. Definitely worth a listen, which is why I included it at the end of this post. Oh yeah, and among the included the tracks is a slightly retooled version of “The Battle.” The only difference between the version on the EP and the version I originally heard, as far as I can tell, is that a couple extra beats were looped in. So if you have never heard “The Battle” before and you can’t find it anywhere else, then you may as well get this EP just to hear that.
As I had mentioned above, a DVD is included with the EP. It’s nothing too special. It includes an interview with Lady Sovereign, some behind-the-scenes and concert footage, and a few music videos. The only problem is that all these different videos aren’t separated. Everything is just a 20-something minute long movie that switches between the various things that have been assembled. Oh yeah, one other problem. If you follow a strict American linguistic diet then you may have trouble understanding Lady Sovereign’s thick British accent. Or as she might say, “La’y Sawvr’nz ffick Bri’ish akssehnt.”
Buy Vertically Challenged by Lady Sovereign
Lady Sovereign – Ch Ching (Cheque 1-2 Remix)
Lady Sovereign – A Little Bit of Shh