The news that Jay-Z had signed Lady Sovereign may have come as a surprise to those who aren’t paying attention. But to most, it was an unsurprising move that is deceptively risky. At only nineteen, Sov appeared on two tracks on the genre-defining Run the Road grime comp and has already gained quite a buzz for herself in the U.K. with her appearance in Mike Skinner’s “Fit but You Know It” remix video. Now, with a legion of would-be fans praying she doesn’t go pop, Sov has released an EP of some of her biggest tracks to prepare us all for what will be, may be, could be the biggest event of 2006: Grime’s invasion of the States.
Unless you’ve been living without Internet for the past year, you have already formed an opinion of the two biggest tracks on Vertically Challenged. “Random” is her catchy tease, the one where she references big stars and big lines (“Everybody in the club getting tipsy”). It’s a fun song, and the beat out-crazies everything in sight, even if her performance is somewhat anonymous. “Cha-Ching,” on the other hand, is a star-making turn. Running all over machine slams and whirrs, Sov really shows her trickster side. Though she is a good vocalist, her strength is her charisma, and when she turns it on it is easy to see why she has the best potential to hit it big in mainstream hip-hop.
But then we’re stuck with the old stuff (“The Battle” and “A little Bit of Shhh”) and three remix tracks. The only recent track on the disc is “Fiddle With the Volume,” and the pump-up-the-jams battle cry doesn’t thrill quite like getting random. Sov has her work cut out for her in the close-minded world of American hip-hop, and we can only hope she doesn’t go pop and ruin it all for everyone. If Jay keeps her real and gives her some quality producers who know what they’re doing, we could have a real star on our hands.
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