Public Warning-Lady Sovereign 

(Def Jam)

The self-described "biggest midget in the game," Lady Sovereign is a white, female, British MC making her bid for mainstream U.S. success with a debut full-length commissioned for Def Jam by Jay-Z himself. Surprisingly, it's the "white" part of that high concept that seems definitive. Lady Sov's snottiness, self-deprecation, asides, and sound effects all signify Eminem more than, say, Missy Elliott (who guests) or Dizzee Rascal. But her beats (cheap and grimy) and references (Run the Road, Girls Aloud, Guinness, "Big up Oliver Twist, letting us know the nitty gritty of what London really is") remain mostly English, which means that, in the unlikely event she crosses over, it'll be on her own terms. Massive sonic exception: "Random," which adds some Virginia Beach bottom to her great 2005 indie hit. ("Random," "Love Me or Hate Me Remix," "Fiddle With the Volume")

-- Chris Herrington

Grade: B+

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