Meet grime's 'white midget', Lady Sovereign...

 


WORDS: AMP
IMAGE: DARYL WALLER
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Question: What can there possibly be in this world that is more objectionable than a bunch of moody, tracksuited nob-ends getting record deals and inflicting their awful rapping 'skillz' on the public? Answer: Why not make them female, and extremely ugly? [from chavspotting.co.uk]

Ooh, what a top idea! Why not make them everything that's guaranteed to get on the tits of your average pedestrian middle-class whiteboy! Let's see… yeah, the tracksuit's good, we'll keep that: it's about as far from Kylie's hotpants as a girl can get.








FOUL-MOUTHED AND OBNOXIOUS

The hair? Right, we don't want no gentle waves or long fringes or pokerstraight Lavigne-manes - let's shove it in a scrapeback! An aura of vibrant, yoga-toned healthiness? Don't think so, blud - let's make her smoke the cheapest fags on the market and live off the spoils of kebab shops and McDonalds.|

Attitude? Hm - foul-mouthed, obnoxious and cheeky. And as for her 'flow'? Let's make her spit in a voice which is completely incongruous with her tiny stature, much lower and louder you'd expect, and in a peculiarly London blend of patois and glottal stops - that'll really wind 'em up. Facking sweet! Ladies and gentlemen, I think we've got it. Allow us to present: Lady Sovereign!



MIDGET AND PROUD

jSelf-described 'white midget' Lady Sovereign, 19 - real name Louise Harman, she says, pulling a doing-a-sick face - represents the quirkier, cheekier, more boisterous aspect of the grime spectrum.

Her tracks so far have included Blah Blah - about all the people talking shit about her on the internet ; Ch Ching (Cheque 1 2) - about getting paid (and she has - she's just signed to Universal for a reported £3million); Midget and Proud - about the perils and delights of being 5" 1' and looking about 11 years old; and the classic dis track Sad Ass Stripper, which slags off 'caravan rapper' Jentina for having a dodgy hairsprayed Elvis quiff, driving a Nissan Sunny through Peckham, wearing the same Gucci thong for weeks in a row and dancing like she's got it stuck up her bum.

CH-CHING


'I merked her!' she giggles, clicking her fingers with obvious delight. 'She got mashed! All her A&R people really hate me because apparently I really bruised her career!'

Kicked out of school before her GCSE's for bunking off, Sovereign began building her CV through a series of extremely dodgy jobs, including selling doughnuts in Wembley market and door-to-door double glazing sales. Unsurprising, then, that the alternative - which started with MC-ing in front of the mirror into a can of hairspray - seemed so much more appealing.

'I go on the internet a lot and I'd record these dodgy little demos of me with the computer mike and send it to people. I started doing raves and festivals - anything that came along, I'd do it.'


 


GUTTERAL, RHYTHMIC BACKCHAT

When she was 17, producer Medasyn spotted her in an indie documentary about MCs, and recruited her for his epic boys v. girls track The Battle, along with Shystie, Frost P and Zuz Rock. The track, which sees the boys deliver the usual boastful trash-talk before Shystie and Sov 'show them how girls spit', introduced her guttural, rhythmic backchat to a wider audience, while showcasing the tough-ass tomboy charm that's the trademark of a female grime MC.

'Yeah, I am sort of a tomboy', she says. 'I've never been too girly, ever. I used to play football a lot - that's what I wanted to do, before I realised I could MC. I can be quite brave, sometimes, but not too brave. I won't put on a dress or anything.'

FEMININE? NAH. SOVEREIGN? YES.

In fact the whole concept of artificial, overly-showy femininity, as showcased by most of the chicks in today's pop world, seems to be a bit of a puzzle for Sovereign, despite her tiny girly stature, big eyes and long hair. Her track Ch Ching contains the lyric 'Feminine? Nah. Sovereign? Yes!'. What's her concept of femininity? 'Er… trying too hard? I don't know what it's like to be proper full-on girly… it's scary thinking about it!'

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