IMAGE: DARYL WALLER
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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
'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
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