Say 'bye-bye' to Envy and get ta know Nikkeh.
Manchester rapper Envy would always have incurred a comparison to the biggest midget in the game, Lady Sovereign and it might seem lazy to pluck Lady Sovereign from the list but their similarities run deeper than ‘fEMINEMs with a trainer fetish’. She recognises Sov’s importance in the scene, female emcees thin on the ground as they are, and offers at least one thumbs up on 'Put ya game face on' where Envy does the near-obligatory run-through of her rhyming influences: from Lil’ Kim to Shystie to Ms Dynamite to the new slew of British female rappers.
Envy's syllable-squeezing technique is admirably accomplished. It’s no surprise she’s won a number of freestyle battle competitions, such is the explosive yet meticulously detailed manner of her flow. There’s little in her voice to suggest an upbringing anywhere outside of the M25, but Envy’s work with London-based Akira the Don and Medasyn perhaps qualifies the lack of a discernable regional accent.
Her lexicon is urban and she’s street aware, freely obnoxious and unashamedly feisty, but you’ll find no hood-rat chat here. Envy is intelligent and boisterous, particularly so on ‘Normal’, with its big, swaggering drops, but she’s also unafraid to be revealingly introspective. ‘Sometimes I Think Deep’ is autobiographically raw, and tracks like ‘Let’s Play Pretend’ and ‘You & Me’ strip back social pretences to reveal anger, angst and vulnerability with equal dexterity.
I caught Envy live at The Queen of Hoxton a few weeks ago and she blew off her competitors harder than Divine Brown. Casual attire, cut off shorts, token beanie, un-prescribed glasses and a baseball jacket with her album launch date emblazoned across the back and Envy was ready to set ablaze to the army of fans that had packed out the venue to swallow some of this grrrls spit.