By: Jessica Grose
In common parlance, a Napoleon Complex is a short man’s need to act with aggression and bluster to make up for his lack of physical size. Currently, there’s no corresponding word in the lexicon for a woman displaying Napoleonic traits, but if pint-size rapper Lady Sovereign (standing tall at a whopping 5’1”) becomes as successful as she aims to be, the new Napoleon might be spelled S-O-V.
Nineteen-year-old Sov (nee Louise Harman) definitely ain’t speakin’ the Queen’s English. The way she spits out taunts on her new EP Vertically Challenged is the furthest thing from delicate. “I’m the best thing since sliced bread / No, Eminem / Femininem? Nah… / Ms. Sovereign? Yeah!”, Lady Sov rhymes with her distinctive girlish lilt over an industrial backbeat on “Ch-Ching.”
This Cockney ankle biter also isn’t afraid to take down the bigwigs of rap. Sov stood out as an early beacon from London’s burgeoning grime scene, which merged rap with elements of dancehall and rave, owing more to Jamaican ragga than to 50 Cent. On “Random” she pokes fun at St. Louis-bred Chingy, at the same time giving props to her English roots: “I’m right there / Right hurr / Na’ right here / Now get off your churr! I mean chair / Some English MCs get it twisted / Start sayin’ cookies, instead of biscuit.”
Don’t get it twisted — Sov’s rapier rhymes have attracted the attention of some major players in the world of hip-hop: The Beastie Boys’ Ad Rock does a seven-minute remix of “A Little Bit of Shhh!” for Vertically Challenged; songs with Missy Elliott and the Neptunes are in production; and a deal with Def Jam honcho Jay-Z is reportedly in the works. Lady Sovereign might be a multitalented munchkin, but when it comes to her rapping chops, she’s definitely a size queen.
Lady Sovereign tour dates:
11/28, Cambridge, MA (Middle East)11/30, New York, NY (The Knitting Factory)12/1, Philadelphia, PA (Silk City)12/2, Montreal, QC (La Tulip)12/3, Toronto, ON (Revival)12/6, Chicago, IL (Empty Bottle)12/9, San Francisco, CA (Live 105 Afterparty)12/13, Los Angeles, CA (Cinespace)