Lady Sovereign is a girl who knows how to take her criticisms with a healthy grain of salt. "They can fuck off," said the 20-year-old British rapper of her detractors. "I don't give a shit. People are gonna have things to say but I don't care, it's just peoples' opinions. Blah. They can kiss my butt."
If that strikes you as a bit un-Lady-like, don't be so sure. Sov owes her reputation - as well as recent Def Jam contract and upcoming U.S. tour - to her brash attitude and self-confidence. And in a recent phoner with Street, Sov - spending the day watching Ricky Lake in her London flat - didn't have anything to apologize for.
"I'm just honest," she said. "That's it, that's all I can say to you really. Honesty. I like it at the end of the day." Sovereign certainly doesn't seem to dress up the truth. On "Love Me Or Hate Me," the first single off her forthcoming album, Public Warning, Sov proclaims herself the "biggest midget in the game" and raps about hairy armpits and drinking Heineken - no champagne for London's Lil' Kim. Sov's also eager to spread the truth when it comes to her competition. On "Sad Saggy Strippa," she calls out high-maintainence British pop rival Jentina: "You was born in a caravan / That don't make you ghetto / I seen more ghetto in Posh Spice's stiletto."
Whether or not Sov's brand of cheeky celebrity will translate for U.S. audiences remains to be seen, but Def Jam is willing to take that risk. CEO Jay-Z signed Sov on their first meeting after an impromptu freestyle in the company's NY headquarters. She's also got her single, "Love Me Or Hate Me," on a Verizon Chocolate commercial.
Sov's big date with the States will be her 21-show headliner tour starting this November. She came to the U.S. with The Streets this summer ("Mike Skinner actually walked past my apartment the other day," she mentioned. "That was a bit random"), but her prior mini-tour left her with a reputation for on-stage temper tantrums. She last played in Philadelphia at the Silk City nightclub, storming off halfway through her opener when the sound wasn't up to drum.
It's likely that Sov's going to have to sharpen her rapier on American culture to garner the same notoriety on this side of the Atlantic that she enjoys in the U.K.. She's not quite there, she admits. "There's not many things annoying me about America because I'm only getting to know it anyway and I can't really judge it. I've lived in London all my life and America is a bit of a culture shock."
Upon further consideration, Sov found one arrow in her quiver to sling at the States: "The bread ain't right, you can't get a normal slice of bread in the U.S., it tastes like cake."
If all goes according to plan, soon she'll be having her Wonder Bread and eating it too.
Lady Sovereign will be at Starlight Ballroom (460 N. 9th St.) on Wednesday, November 1 at 8 p.m.