Lady Sovereign - Public Warning
Lady Sovereign seems to be under the impression that one way or another, she is likely to provoke a strong reaction, not just with grown men dressed as jam filled pastry treats. Current single Love Me or Hate Me expresses the inability for there to be a middle ground – you either love her, in which case thanks, or you hate her, and can therefore f*** off. Shame then that the material on this, her debut album, is so distinctly average and is likely to be greeted with little more than indifference.
Yes, despite the fact that she seems to have been around for yonks, this is her debut release, mostly due to various record company wrangles. This caused her to jump ship over to Def Jam after a meeting of minds with president Jay-Z, becoming the first non-American rapper to sign for the label. The album has been available in the US for some months, where she has achieved some notoriety, especially over the farcical Jelly Donut scuffle. However, despite the best efforts of The Ordinary Boys, in the UK association with the so-called “chav” culture has hindered her attempts to be taken seriously, her singles failing to achieve much success.
Success in the US has not caused her to modify the language and cultural references that pepper her songs. She remains an English artist, with life in London, shepherds pie and the ginger one out of Girls Aloud garnering a mention in her lyrics. She clearly has an eye on her American success though, Love Me Or Hate Me daring anyone to deport her from the US, whilst My England is a rather crass introduction to her home country, old stereotypes peddled with too little irony to make it tolerable.
The majority of the songs here are a little on the old side, hinting that this release may have been sat on the shelf for a while. Random and 9 To 5 are good, solid tracks, but have been around for ages, something that shows in their lyrical references. Tango also is a one joke song, again full of citations that might have been amusing five years ago but now have little relevance.
It is also a repetitive album (you do get rather sick of making way for the S.O.V. for example), but at the same time there are enough inventive little flourishes that make an effort to redeem things. Occasionally a lyrical spark will cause you to take notice, and it is certainly not without humour, a particular favourite of mine being the gleeful ways she squeals “pianos!” in Little Bit of Hush.
Despite being a well produced album that sounds perfectly adequate, it does fall short on numerous occasions and sounds like a facsimile of other, more engaging rappers. Love Me or Hate Me echoes of a cobbled together rendering of numerous Eminem tracks, the intervention of Missy Elliott on the included remix vastly improving the song. Overall, rather than compiling together so much old material, a re-think and a start again attitude may have served her better.