Lady Sovereign: Lady’s First

L ady Sovereign may be 5’1” tall, but don’t underestimate this young woman’s fierce presence. The self-proclaimed “biggest midget in the game” created such a stir on the underground UK scene, that it persuaded Jay-Z to bring her over the pond to a Def Jam/Island Records contract. Some critics forecast this union of unique talent […]

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ady Sovereign may be 5’1” tall, but don’t underestimate this young woman’s fierce presence. The self-proclaimed “biggest midget in the game” created such a stir on the underground UK scene, that it persuaded Jay-Z to bring her over the pond to a Def Jam/Island Records contract.

Some critics forecast this union of unique talent and label machinery to be the “female Eminem.” Beyond the aesthetics, Lady Sovereign is not unlike Marshall Mathers in his premier. She criticizes media darlings like Jessica Simpson and she’s taunted British rap crowds to battle her lyrically. The pride of Wembley, England has also turned former opponents into lyrical voodoo dolls within her songs.

Lady Sovereign’s unique magic was already reaching US audiences through her Vertically Challenged EP and a fierce buzz. Now, with everybody from the Beastie Boys to Hova behind her, there’s big trouble coming from a tiny woman. What’s your working relationship like with Jay-Z?

Lady Sovereign: He lets me do my thing. He’s a very honest guy– he’s a Sagittarian like me, you know, so I understand where he’s coming from and what he’s saying. But he’s just really supportive. He doesn’t really pressure me to do anything I don’t want to do. With everything that you have been through in your life, from getting kicked out of school, and taking crappy jobs, and so on. Would you say getting signed to Def Jam is your biggest accomplishment, or is it deeper than that for you?

Lady Sovereign: Getting signed to Def Jam is probably the biggest thing that has happened in my life, but getting signed is one thing and actually doing more than that is another thing. You know, I don’t want to sit here and say that getting signed to Def Jam is the biggest thing when the biggest things have yet to come. You’ve said before that Ms. Dynamite was an inspiration to you. But you both come from two different worlds, you’re more of the underground sound, and she is more mainstream, and you both are in the same age range. Don’t you think she is more of a competition to you?

Lady Sovereign: She obviously opened doors for me, and a lot of female MCs in the UK anyway, especially for my age range. She was like the first UK MC in the UK rapping for the type of music I was listening to back then… which was Garage. It was just the fact that she was female and she was– sick! I always loved what she did, and I just hope that she comes and brings it back again like she used to. Based on rumors about your upcoming album, are you going to be collaborating with Missy and Timbaland?

Lady Sovereign: Not this time around. That will have to wait for now. For your Def Jam album, who are some of the producers that you’ve collaborated with?

Lady Sovereign: Medasyn, who I’ve been working with from day one. [Electronica group] Basement Jaxx, Doctor Luke, and Adrock from Beastie Boys to name a few… Besides Adrock, were you not ready to take the risk with some more commercially acclaimed producers?

Lady Sovereign: Well, you see, Vertically Challenged was just a small EP to educate you Americans about what I do from the start. ‘Cause my stuff has already circulated over here [in the UK], so, I just kinda put things together and put it on a CD, and so far, people like it. But other well-known producers may be in the works in the future, yeah. For a while, the title of the album was billed as Straight Up Cheeky…

?Lady Sovereign: It was never really an album or anything. People kept asking me, ‘What are you gonna call your album?’ I didn’t know at the time so I was just like. ‘Uhhh…Straight Up Cheeky,‘ so people began to get that impression. So you’re keeping your sound true to grime mandate, you’re not taking it there yet…

Lady Sovereign: Well I am not really that far into it [mainstream] yet. My album is still very commercial sounding, but I don’t do it on purpose, I just do what I’m doing and if people don’t like it… f**k ’em. You got a lot of buzz with your single “Jentina,” I know that is a make-believe character that you’re rapping about…

Lady Sovereign: No, she exists! As hard as it is to think, that character does exist. She’s faded now ’cause I completely buried her. She was a wannabe white girl who was rapping. She got a few songs into the charts,[but she was] just ridiculous… they could play her s**t, but they won’t play mine, and she was crap. I just did a song about her on her own beat. Don’t know what she’s doing now, probably cleaning toilets. You probably get asked this a lot, but the Grime scene is pretty heavy, do you think America is ready it?

Lady Sovereign: If you ain’t ready, then you ain’t real. Because I think that the whole way that music’s forecasted and the whole way it’s out there… you don’t hear the good stuff all the time, because the good stuff is different. People don’t like to take a risk with it. So if you don’t know what’s good, then you’re just another person hittin’ daytime radio and what they’re playin’ every second of the day, know what I mean? Maybe. You’ve been compared to Eminem by media critics everywhere. Do you feel a major responsibility right now? Especially considering that you’re a female and you’re only 19?

Lady Sovereign: The whole Eminem comparison… yeah it’s flattering, but at the end of the day, I know I do something completely different from him. Yeah, I’m white and I’m always gonna get the comparison the way Eminem got the whole Vanilla Ice thing. You know? But I have responsibility to keep doing what I’m doing. I’m just proud of myself at the end the day. I’ve gone through a lot, and I’ve had to put up with people dissin’ me and stuff. One thing you do have in common is your disdain for Pop-queens. For example, you criticized Jessica Simpson. It’s no secret that you’re going to cause a lot of controversy. And I know your one known for that… but you’re also going to face roadblocks, you know, the whole sex sell spiel. What would like to address to those people that are biased when it comes to image in Pop culture?

Lady Sovereign: Rules in general… who gives you the right to say, ‘you can’t do this and that.’ I am who am, I dress how I dress. I don’t wear dresses, I don’t like stilettos, I don’t like curly long hair. I don’t do all of that earrings and lipstick, and all that rubbish. It’s not me, and I don’t feel comfortable. I’m just real, and I’m not gonna lie about it. When are you coming back to the North America?

Lady Sovereign: Any bloody day now. Actually, I will be in touring with The Streets. [UK artist] Based on your previous performances in North America , how has the response been for you so far?

Lady Sovereign: Good, people really know who I am. There’s a big following there It’s been lively, so it’s cool.