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Lady Sovereign

Vertically Challenged (Chocolate Industries)

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Like Iggy Pop, Lady Sovereign's five foot one, and she's almost as cocky. She may be the lone white chick in the black-male-dominated U.K. grime scene, but there's nothing token about Sov's status among the nascent genre's elite; the girl's got mic skills that'll tie your cochlea in even tighter coils. A blogosphere phenomenon, Sov came to most Americans' attention through Vice's Run the Road comp, on which her "Cha Ching" (also on this eight-track EP) epitomizes her cheekiness and urgent cadences. Jay-Z has just signed her to Def Jam Left, so expect hype.

Based on this teaser to her 2006 album, Lady Sovereign will earn the shine. She balances requisite rap bravado with charming self-deprecation. Her quicksilver-tongued verbals bubble like gossip from an overamped teenage girl, but they're tempered with East London street hardness. Vertically Challenged features bunker-busting bass plunges and splatterings of antique video-game FX, but otherwise it conforms more to electro-funk's 4/4 than to grime's frantic, awkwardly clipped beats. Despite its brevity, Vertically Challenged is short on neither excitement nor promise.

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