Lady Sovereign - Make Way For The S-O-V
3D’s John Morrison talks Def Jam and sampling The Cure with British hip hop/grime pop queen, Lady Sovereign.
Last time around, Lady Sovereign emerged in a swathe of hype that in the hip hop world is akin to erecting billboards the size of buildings in New York’s Times Square. With impresario Jay-Z in her corner, it seemed that ‘the biggest midget in the game’ (as she titled herself) was destined to break down the supposed sexual and cultural barriers, and become the first female English MC to become a household name the world over.
It didn’t quite work out that way.
Whilst, in most quarters, her debut Public Warning was well received critically, a very public meltdown on stage whilst touring in support of the record and subsequent feuds with Def Jam saw her become an independent artist, with second album Jigsaw released on her very own Midget Records imprint.
The funniest thing is, Jigsaw contains her most direct and immediately approachable songs, with sung choruses and the use of her very first sample – So Human uses The Cure’s Close To Me for its chorus. (There is also some talk that this was initially an idea presented to her by Def Jam, having heard the Thomas Jules track Get Close to Me.)
“They have the choice to approve it or not,” she explains. “I did it, it got sent to them, and they approved it and – la-dee-da – the rest is how it is.”
Having never sampled a track before to create a musical bed for her tracks, using Close To Me was something new and exciting for Lady Sov.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever sampled anything like that,” Sov says, and sample it she does – there’s no mistaking where the musical hook in So Human comes from, with it not just a mere sample but the entire basis of the track. “I just really liked the song, to be honest. It was always one of my favourites.”
Jigsaw is a much more streamlined and refined release than her debut – it’s shorter, tighter, and expertly put together by both Lady Sov and pop producer Dr. Luke.
“I think quality is better than quantity,” she asserts. “I just get on with making an album – I don’t have a pre-plan, or concept or anything. I just make music.”
When it comes to creating the music, there is no set way that she comes up with songs – it’s neither a case of beats first and music second, nor vice-versa, or all together at once. Everything depends on each individual track.
“I just go into the studio and work on a beat, put some lyrics down on it, work on the beat, put some more lyrics down...” she says, drifting off into thoughts far removed from talking about her creative process. “It depends how much I’m feeling it. I know when something’s good right from the get-go and it’s an excitement thing really – the more I’m excited, the quick I’ll finish it because it’s an enthusiasm thing, really.”
WHO: Lady Sovereign
WHAT: Jigsaw through Midget Records / Liberator
WHEN: Out now