Lady Sovereign | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Lady Sovereign 

On her underground gem "Random," British grime MC Lady Sovereign hilariously nails why it's taken so long for England to develop its own brand of hip-hop: slipping in and out of an exaggerated drawl a la Chingy's "Right Thurr" she spits, "Not get off your churr, I mean chair / Some English MCs get it twisted / Start sayin' cookies instead of biscuits." The slew of tracks that 19-year-old Louise Harman has released on import singles and EPs are rooted in familiar grime elements like bass-heavy, spazzy, dancehall-inflected rhythms and herky-jerky stops and starts. But her charisma and sense of humor--at five-foot-one, she's crowned herself the "biggest midget in the game"--are distinctive, and she's less interested in bragging about her skills than simply displaying them. On "Cha Ching" she flips the usual bling anthem, acknowledging that she has to sleep on a too-small sofa and asserting that it's her verbal dexterity and substance that really glitter: "I don't have 50 rings / But I gots 50 things to say in a cheeky kinda way." But she's arrogant enough to master the withering put-down, shrinking British pop tart Jentina down to size on "Sad Ass Strippa" with lines like "Sad ass strippa in a messed-up way / Get out the car and drop your hairsprays." Dizzee Rascal is the only grime artist to make a blip on America's radar thus far, but with a debut full-length forthcoming on Island Records, Lady Sovereign will likely join him--her cocky style seems to be well suited to hip-hop tastes on these shores. This is one of only two U.S. performances. DJs Damon Locks, Ben Fasman, and John Herndon open. Fri 7/8, 10 PM, Sonotheque, 1444 W. Chicago, 312-226-7600, $10.

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