Vertically Challenged EP

Artist: Lady SovereignTitle: Vertically Challenged EPRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Jamin Warren

When UK teen Lady Sovereign dropped “Random” this past spring, bloggers on both sides of the pond collectively freaked. The single brashly took aim at Yankee rappers and the 19-year-old wunderkind was, apparently, the new Queen of Hip-Hop. The Fader Magazine blessed Sov with cover credits (she had only a handful of material floating on the web) and Jay-Z’s Island/Def Jam grabbed her for a ’06 debut.

So where’s the cocky, headstrong emcee that dazzled her way into overnight celebrity? On “Ch-Ching” from the Run the Road comp, Sov boasted “I’ve got 50 things to say in a cheeky kind of way” and we gave her the benefit of the doubt. On Vertically Challenged (Chocolate Industries), Sov stumbles through 8 things and it turns out she has very little to actually say.

No doubt, Sov’s production is more coherent and melodic than other grime exports like Dizzee Rascal and Wiley; Menta’s “Random” is the closest thing to an English dancefloor burner you’ll hear this year even with Riko’s messy, phoned-in verse from prison. Beastie Boys’ Ad Rock steps out to bless Sov with a remix, retrofit with driving digital snares and frenetic tempo worthy of a Billy Blanks infomerical. But the Wembley native shortchanges her production. With style-free choruses like, “Abuse your speakers/lose your manners/disturb the neighbors/this one’s a banger,” on “Fiddle With The Volume,” Sov sounds listless and apathetic. Frost P utterly upends his host on the 8-minute, war of the sexes “The Battle,” barreling through a fiery, furious speed-rap. Even the gratuitously multi-tracked vocals fail to give her the authority to carry the torch alone.

Who knows? Maybe Lady Sov’s full-length will make good on Def Jam’s speculative investment and you can tear up this review and quit badmouthing this reviewer on your blog. But don’t hold your breath; Vertically Challenged is in dire need of intensive care.