The self-proclaimed "biggest midget in the game," MC Lady Sovereign has an unmistakably British delivery and style, but a string of singles showcasing her sly wit and brash charisma over bottom-heavy beats brought on a worldwide buzz. Born Louise Harman, Sovereign was raised in northwest London's notorious Chalkhill Estate, a public housing project known for being especially rough and ragged. Although she admits her upbringing could get dangerous or depressing in these surroundings, Sovereign focused on the unique unity in the Chalkhill community, and the street cred she was earning there would soon be vital to the grime community taking her seriously.
Influenced by her mother's Salt-N-Pepa albums, Sovereign began writing her own raps at the age of 14 and uploaded her Chalkhill stories to a So Solid Crew Internet fan forum. It was there where she met her longtime DJ, Frampster. Two years later she dropped out of school and landed a gig acting in an educational film about the life of an up-and-coming MC. She convinced the producers that she could construct a soundtrack for the film, the demos for which landed in the hands of Medasyn. The producer partnered his discovery with Frost P, Zuz Rock, and Shystie for a male MC vs. female MC 12" he was working on titled "The Battle." Released in 2003 on Casual Records, "The Battle" began a string of singles that would push Sovereign into the spotlight.
While "A Little Bit of Shhh!," "9 to 5," and "Ch Ching" were flying out of the record bins, free Internet-only freestyles like "Tango" and "Cheeky" were becoming just as popular with the grime faithful. She began 2005 by appearing on the vital grime compilation Run the Road -- both as a solo artist and with the Streets -- then collected some singles and released the Vertically Challenged EP on Chocolate Industries. She capped off the year by meeting with hip-hop megastar and label CEO Jay-Z. With Usher and L.A. Reid seated next to him, Jay-Z asked for one on-the-spot freestyle from Sovereign before offering her a contract with Def Jam. With the fist-raising single "Hoodie" leading the way, Lady Sovereign released her full-length debut, Public Warning, on Def Jam in 2006. ~ David Jeffries
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