Little Jackie Wants To Be A Star’ is the name of the Lisa Lisa track from which Imani Coppola has lifted the name of her latest incarnation. This is no coincidence. In the 11 years since she hit the medium-time with the MTV-friendly sass-hop of ‘Legend Of A Cowgirl’, Coppola has kept on pushing, self-releasing across various genres, despite never gaining a second sniff at the charts. Early indications are that ‘The Stoop’ is to be her commercial revenge. Teaming up with producer Adam Pallin, she’s blended her caustic lyrics with stacks of Stax horns and retro-soul that a decade ago would’ve been called ‘Slightly Camp Lauryn Hill’, and now fall under ‘Winehouse: Hip-Hop Division’.
It’s a combo that’s getting her talked up as America’s answer to Lily Allen, and the comparison remains accurate on at least two levels. One: she’s got loads of, like, ‘attitude’. Two: as ‘Alright, Still’ was for London in the summer, ‘The Stoop’ is to New York – the distilled sound of a ghetto-blasted block party played out a’neath a gushing fire hydrant.
But unlike Lily’s oddly personal tales of bike-riding in ‘LDN’, this is a personality vehicle that fails to demonstate the basic likeability of its subject. ‘Crying For The Queen’ has her beefing with Winehouse, advising the beehived one “people paid to see a show/They didn’t just make a kind donation”, and to “save all that crying for the Queen” not seeming to notice the distinction between legitimate diss targets and kicking-when-down. And, uh… “the Queen”? Is her follow-up ‘Do You All Live In Castles Over There?’. The level of Galileo-refuting solipsism at play is spelled out most plainly on what’s also her best track: the string-swirled ‘The World Should Revolve Around Me’. Elsewhere, her narratives scream Early 21st Century Life, without actually saying anything, clouting you round the head with LCD-screen-thin pop-cult notions: ‘LOL’ (yup) tells us her two-timing man sent the wrong text to the wrong girl, ‘Guys Like When Girls Kiss’ suggests lezzing it up as a solution to men being rubbish.
Only on ‘Black Barbie’ does her wit intersect with a target unsympathetic enough to accommodate it: the famous-for-being-famous People magazine classes (“went from a size eight to a zero… I’m a weight loss hero”). For the most part, ‘The Stoop’ is a tuneful if beige Ronson-esque production, set against clever-lyrics-for-stupid-people. Sounds like a hit, then…