LADY SOVEREIGN Public Warning (Deleted 2007 UK 14-track CD album - Following her signing with Jay-Z Lady Sov polished off her debut album in New York on which she steadfastly stuck to her uniquely UK sound rhyming about Shepherds Pie Tango andTony Blair including the singles Random Public Warning Hoodie & Love Me Or Hate Me plus the remix featuring Missy Elliott and a live cover version of Pretty Vacant recorded at the Commodore Ballroom)
When reports came back that the 'biggest midget in the game' was making waves in the US, more than a few eyebrows were raised. What was it about Lady Sovereign that was attracting the attention of hip hop royalty such as Jay Z, Missy Elliott and the Beastie Boys? A few listens to her long-awaited debut album and you're still guessing.
In fact, Sov's tabloid flow is so parochial (name checking everything from Antiques Roadshow, The Vicar Of Dibley, 'the ginge from Girls Aloud' and being huge 'like Katie Price's boobs') you have to marvel that anyone outside of NW London, never mind across the Atlantic, can connect with her.
But it's not just lyrical mishaps that let proceedings down. There's also the music - not filthy enough for grime, too lightweight for hip hop - and the fact that fans will be over familiar with too many of these tracks. 'Random' was released two years ago, '9 to 5' has had the ignominy of an Ordinary Boys cover, while 'Public Warning', 'A Little Bit Of Shhh', 'Hoodie' 'Blah Blah' and 'Love Me Or Hate Me' are all previous singles. The latter reappears in the form of a dodgy Missy Elliott remix (surely her worst collaboration since 'I Want You Back' with Mel B).
Ultimately though, Public Warning is further proof that major labels are incapable of marketing UK urban artists. Rather than break new ground, Def Jam appear to be happier reaching out for some non-existent mainstream and turning their artist into a pint-sized novelty act. In which case, job done. Those inevitable and lazy Vicky Pollard/chav comparisons will soon come thick and fast; after which you can easily foresee Lady Sovereign following the career trajectory of Shystie and Estelle as she tries to figure out what made her interesting in the first place. --Adam Webb
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