Lady Sovereign: Not Nearly as Good As Ya Kid K
Don't even try to deny it. You loved the video for Technotronic's "Get Up (Before the Night is Over)." You also inevitably loved "Pump the Jam." Why? Because you probably love Ya Kid K, even if you're not aware of it.
Like Dr. Julius Hibbert, you may be wondering whether or not I mean "love" in the way that a man loves a woman or the way in which a man loves a fine cuban cee-gar. But the answer is neither. I mean love in the way that when you were nine, ten or eleven years old, you were probably enamored by the sweet songs of Technotronic's weird hybrid of rap, funk and jam-pumping. You probably even "got up and got busy?" In all likelihood, you did it before the night was over (prolly around 10:00 p.m.) Ya Kid K wanted to see you party, so party you did. Was she psychic? Did she possess skills to make you "do that thang?" Most likely. How else to explain her bizarre grip on the national psyche circa 1989. Pump the Jam indeed.
But there is a point to this strange monologue. Specifically, that it is now the year 2006 and a new figure, Lady Sovereign, has risen to challenge the hegemony once established by Ya Kid K. Indeed, with her adrogynous stylings, young age and retina-searing decision to clothe herself in a Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamboat-esque wardrobe, Lady Sovereign seems to be the next in line to inherit Ya Kid K's throne.
Ya Kid K: Giving Androgynous Moppets a Good Name Since 1989
Sadly, Lady Sovereign's America debut, Public Warning is appropriately titled in that the album should carry a sticker warning potential buyers of its headache-inducing abilities. Listening to this thing for more than 15 minutes is just asking for your skull to burst out into waves of throbbing earth-shattering pain. Granted, I'm no fan of grime music, (other than the Streets who probably doesn't even count as grime), but Sovereign's album just isn't good, all tinny video game beats filled with grating squiggles and beeps , fast incomprehensible raps and the frequent proclamation that she's "the biggest midget in the game."
The album isn't totally still-born. In small doses, it's tolerable. Unlike most female rappers (read: Missy Elliot, who guests on the "Love Me or Hate Me" remix), Sovereign can rap. Quite well. In fact, when I saw her open for the Streets this summer, Sovereign clearly out-classed Mike Skinner, with her brash attitude, confidence and effortless spitfire vocals. But while her live performance benefits from her undeniable charisma, on the album she sounds rather two-dimensional and carictured. Ultimately though, the beats make this album unlistenable. At times, it makes me think that "grime" is merely British-speak for "crunk." Which as we all know is American-speak for "suck."
A Little Bit of Missy, A Little Bit of Gwen Stefani, Not Enough Ya Kid K
Predictably, Public Warning improves drastically on the few tracks with slower beats that Sovereign capably rides out on. "Hoodie" and "Those Were the Days" emerge as bright spots towards the end of record, even if the latter reminds me way too much of a track from the Party Fun Action Committee.
Ultimately, the LP was left with a gaping void: a guest appearance from Ya Kid K. Did I expect one? Good god, no, that would've just been stupid. But the album does lack one true stand-out song capable of rocking every 5th grade dance party in America. But you know who did rock every 5th grade party? Ya Kid K. So ultimately, if I had to endorse one foreign slightly adrognyous female rapper, Ya Kid K would win hands down. Lady Sovereign might make the jam slightly better, but she certainly can't pump the jam like the Zaire-born/Belgium raised Ya Kid K. When you count the fact that Ya Kid K performed a song on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II soundtrack, the choice becomes clear: Ya Kid K remains the biggest little midget in the game.
Lady Sovereign: "Those Were the Days" (right-click, save-as)
Ya Kid K: "Pump the Jam" (right-click, save-as)