Does your fourteen-year-old niece need a role model for Christmas? Then keep her the hell away from Jay-Z's latest protégée, midget English rapper Lady Sovereign, who returns to the Bay Area next week. This pasty 21-year-old resident of North London projects dropped out of high school with dreams of making music pay. This week she releases Public Warning, her first American album, backed by lots of product placement through Verizon and Adult Swim.
Public Warning could kill in the suburban tween market for three key reasons: Sovereign squeaks potent anti-intellectual, ghetto fabulousness that disaffected suburban kids lap up; it's dance music for a Dance Dance Revolution generation; and the five-foot-one Teen People cover girl looks like one of them. The track "My England" shows her distancing herself from English tea, cricket, and the queen, with raps about budget living, smoking weed, and playing PS2. "Blah Blah" redefines vapid teen jargon with a chorus of blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. "Random" is the UK analogue to the hyphy motto "Go dumb," wherein Sovereign instructs listeners to get stupid!/get random! If that weren't trouble enough, she reps the UK grime scene, which means ridiculously simple melody supports stomping, insistent bass and her hoo-de-hooo! Four of these songs clock in at nearly 240 beats per minute DDR speed for the Adderall-addled.
Lastly, Sovereign's incredibly young, aggro, "just trying to be real" image plays well in cul-de-sacs. The album's single "Love Me or Hate Me" tells potential haters to go fuck themselves, because she's going to keep doing her thing. It's partly a pose. She is nervous about her debut on a huge American major label. "I know I got fans, but at the end of the day I know how it works. If your shit don't sell, 'bye-bye,'" she says. Then the Lady chimes in: "But I know that I'm special and this album's a classic." High School Musical, you're on notice.