Artist: Lady SovereignTitle: Public WarningRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Bill Zimmerman
In the years leading up to her full-length debut, Public Warning (Def Jam), Lady Sovereign generated the kind of buzz other artists would kill for. From fans clamoring for new content online to publications quickly making her a cover girl, everybody wanted more of the “biggest midget in the game.” Of course, many were also weary of a white, female rapper from England, and when she scored a deal with Def Jam, haters were ready to declare one of President Carter’s early acquisitions a bust.
Well, Jay-Z knew what he was doing because Public Warning is a gem. No inane skits, corny intros or guests. This album is 12 songs of solid music that showcase the charm and humor that got her a gang of exposure before she even had a record in the states.
The album clocks in at about 45 minutes and the variety of song concepts makes it seem even faster. On “Fiddle” she torments her neighbors with loud tunes and delivers cheeky lines such as “Lights off lights on I’m teasin’/They think I’ve gone to sleep but I’m changing the CD.”
“Tango” is a swipe at the use of sunless tanning products as Ess-Oh-Vee calls out “orange” girls with lines such as “Bring out the detergent/Scrub the Oompa Loompa it’s urgent/Have you seen her face it’s disturbin’/How much fake tan are you squirtin’?” On “9 to 5” she ponders the work involved with being an entertainer, lamenting on the hook, “Oh my gosh my days are getting longer, and there’s no turning back/I’m working a 9 to 5 just to keep my contract. Did I say 9 I meant 1:30/I ain’t no early birdie.â
The thinking-back jam “Those Were Better Days,” the rowdy party anthem “Gatheration” and the cocky first single “Love Me or Hate Me (F**k You!!!)” show more of her depth.
Lady Sovereign doesn’t change for her stateside release maintaining her “British’ness” throughout and keeping her songs filled with terms and expressions from her home country. “London ain’t all crumpets and trumpets/It’s one big slum pit,” she declares on “My England”.
The biggest disappointment with Public Warning is that several of the songs were already available on either Sov’s 2005 Vertically Challenged EP, or on singles released overseas. Some of the old tunes undergo very slight changes, but it would have been nice if those big Def Jam dollars would have been put into some new tracks. However, for many this will be their first exposure to the sounds of Lady Sovereign, and Public Warning is a triumphant introduction.