M.I.A.
Kala


5.0
classic

Review

by STOP SHOUTING! USER (27 Reviews)
July 7th, 2010 | 12 replies | 1,880 views


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist


9 of 9 thought this review was well written

If M.I.A.’s debut album restricted itself to her London upbringing and Sri Lankan background, this follow-up album is a far more ambitious project, dauntingly so. Here she is preoccupied with the Third World struggle, in particular the Middle East and Africa, whole swathes of continents in desperate poverty to the point of starvation, ruled by regimes propped up by the US dollar.

It is an intimidating subject to confront especially in the trite arena of pop music, but one can only admire M.I.A. for daring to attempt it; for after all it’s an essential one, perhaps the most relevant issue of modern times, with terrorism and war its constant companions. It may stick in the craw that a pop star should be so audacious to the point of arrogance as to seek to be a voice for the dispossessed of the Third World (“I put people on the map who’ve never seen a map” 20 Dollar). But somehow I think she manages it. Perhaps because she is herself an outsider, a refugee raised on a West London council estate, part of an underclass that spices its native Asian tongue with a hybrid of cockney and Jamaican patois.

But she succeeds only because these global issues are the backdrop, not the forefront, against which life is played out. She is concerned with the global only to the extent of how it impinges on the individual; the political forever juxtaposing with the personal. Take the insanely catchy single Jimmy, an Indian Bollywood pop song about a soldier missing in action. A verse such as “When you go Rwanda, Congo/ take me on the genocide tour/ take me on a truck to Darfur” rubs shoulders with bubblegum love-struck lyrics such as “You told me that you’re busy/ your loving makes me crazy/ I know that you hear me/ start acting like you want me.”

Sure, M.I.A. is provocative; provocative enough to be initially denied a US visa due to her suspected terrorist sympathies. But she is not even close to being worthy; she never offers any easy answers. Most of all she is fun. Throughout this album there is a joy in life, a joy in language, a joy in sound itself. The fact that she is not a musician stops her from immersing herself in one particular style. Indeed she flits like a musical magpie, from US house to African jungle to Arabic street markets to Jamaican ragga to Brazilian soca, even Aboriginal music; a bewildering journey from hip hop to trance to indie (Jonathan Richman, Pixies, the Clash, New Order).

There is still the booming bass lines and pulsing beats of her debut album, but here there are more layers, more colours; and always a light touch, such as the squawking shrieks in Birdflu, the nursery rhyme “na na na’s” of Boyz or the cash machine ker-chings of the pure pop single Paper Planes. But scratch off the sugary coating of these new syrupy melodies and a bitterer pill can be tasted:

“So I woke up with my holy qur’an/ and found out I like allah-lah/ so we shooting and looting to get by/who made me like this/ was it me and God in co-production/ all I want is one thing/ and that is what you got.” (20 Dollar)



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Comments:Add a Comment 
tiesthatbind
July 7th 2010



7373 Comments


Good review.

MUNGOLOID
July 7th 2010



4290 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

never thought i'd see a classic review for this album. nicely done.

Satellite
July 7th 2010



20728 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review. And Paper Planes rules.

Digging: Spoon - They Want My Soul

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
July 7th 2010



7023 Comments


Excellent review. You're a great writer.

Digging: FKA twigs - LP1

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
July 7th 2010



31087 Comments


That be a big ol' 5 ya got there

Nicely written though

Digging: Banks - Goddess

thebhoy
Emeritus
July 7th 2010



4459 Comments


Paper Planes is great. My favourite is Bamboo Banga

Zizzer
July 7th 2010



915 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Arular is still my favorite, but maybe I need to listen to this again. Also, you might want to change Mia to M.I.A. because it looks kind of like the name Mia that way. Great review though!

AtavanHalen
July 7th 2010



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, what Zizzer said RE: M.I.A.

Great album, interesting review.

tinkrbel
July 7th 2010



1698 Comments


Take the insanely catchy single Jimmy, an Indian Bollywood pop song about a soldier missing in action. A verse such as “When you go Rwanda, Congo/ take me on the genocide tour/ take me on a truck to Darfur” rubs shoulders with bubblegum love-struck lyrics such as “You told me that you’re busy/ your loving makes me crazy/ I know that you hear me/ start acting like you want me.”


pos'd cuz u gave this song so much time

dylantheairplane
July 8th 2010



2168 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

loooove this. great review too. this is close but I dont think I would personally 5 this though

STOP SHOUTING!
July 8th 2010



631 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

edited mia to M.I.A.

paper planes is a bit of a guilty pleasure cos it's so pop. but i really love all these tracks. although maybe mango pickle is a bit dodgy.


Yotimi
July 8th 2010



6471 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Paper Planes should not be a guilty pleasure - easily one of the best pop songs of the decade. Album rules. Can't wait for the new one next week.

Digging: Millie and Andrea - Drop The Vowels



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