M.I.A.
Arular


4.5
superb

Review

by Thomas Bambaataa Ghidrah Towers USER (67 Reviews)
January 15th, 2006 | 21 replies | 12,248 views


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist


3 of 3 thought this review was well written

Countries are sometimes divided so politically and religiously, that it causes the whole place to fall apart. With no real majority in these areas, but certainly many minorities, any government on the side of one group of people is bound to get major disagreement from the other groups. But with such radical opposites being at each other’s throats, it seemed to various people that these issues could no longer be resolved with just words. As bad as that may seem, it happened in Sri Lanka and caused the country to get into even bigger turmoil. And such begins the story of how Maya Arulpragasam (M.I.A.) and her debut Arular begins. Maya’s father was a founder of the guerrilla revolutionary group the Tamil Tigers, a group set to fight against the Sinhalese government for methodically discriminating against the Tamil minority. After a while the Tigers were known for suicide bombings and getting children to fight as well, which has lead other countries to label them as terrorists. M.I.A. and her family fled to England as refugees while her father stayed behind amidst the chaos. What does all of this have to do with Arular? Surprisingly, everything.

While it’s easy to dismiss an album beginning with the word “Banana" being chanted over and over again in a hypnotic manner (but unfortunately doesn‘t teach you how to spell it, unlike the considerate Gwen Stefani,) Arular has made a huge splash in the hip hop scene. Getting critical acclaim that would make Kanye West jealous (West’s next TV appearance: “M.I.A. doesn‘t care about black people") and I’m guessing it won’t be long before it starts climbing up the charts. Of course this isn’t your ordinary hip hop record, it’s not everyday a Sri Lankan rapper around. In fact, it’s not anyday at all. Even from the light hearted opener Ba-na-na Skit, one can hear the unconventional beats that are used throughout the album: Steady dancehall rhythms crossed with bhangra rhythms (Punjabi dance music) that sound like a pulse dipping in and out of grooves, made up of faux handclaps and buzzing drumbeats.

Thanks to the odd sounding rhythm, the song’s tempo and melody can be crafted to be equally quirky. And so the stop-start song structures in Arular are created, whether it’d be the synth bleep ridden Pull up the People or Bingo, a bass driven song that marries the marimba and zooming, zipping Groovebox sounds. M.I.A.’s melodic approach to the album is quite the same: robotic, rigid, it’s really not melodic at all. Yet somehow the songs are crazily infectious, somewhere in the heavy basslines, babbling synths and myriads of styles, M.I.A. has created the appeal mostly out of everything but the melody.

But M.I.A. herself seems to be what makes the music absolutely unique. Her accent gives a great spin on all her rapping, sometimes twisting the words to a yelp or rhyming contorted and stretched words, giving an organic, sensual feel to the music. She sounds like a bratty school girl mixed with an arrogant, bad-ass tone. She blurts out the chorus to Galang in a smooth manner, but still maintain her eccentric attributes. Hombre is a perfect example of her playful, tongue-in-cheek vocals. The chorus of “eeeeeeeeeehhhh" is presented in an eerie, mystical manner as it echoes and transcends through the Latin vibe of the song.

In the midst of these party songs, contains M.I.A.’s lyrics about war, her life as a refugee and the guerrilla soldiers the Tamil Tigers. Of course lyrics like these, from Fire Fire:

"Growin up, Brewin Up
Guerilla gettin trained up
look out look out
From over the Rooftop"
"Competition coming up now
Load up,
Aim,
Fire Fire,
Pop"


Would cause a bit of a stir. Indeed, the influence of the Tamil Tigers, her father and what’s happened in Sri Lanka is an undeniable influence on Arular. Is she terrorist? Does she support terrorism? Most probably not, questions like those are most likely brought on because of America’s uneasy, paranoid state. She publicly speaks against violence, which is strange considering the stencil images of tanks, guns and grenades on her album, and those afore-mentioned lyrics. Maybe the lyrics are just supposed to be ironic. One thing is for sure, with the album’s eclectic style of dance music and fast-paced electronic ecstasy, one won’t be able to tell which lyrics are violent and which are ready for party time, bitches! Actually that’s a scary thought, isn’t it? Despite the mildly annoying skits throughout the album, this is the one album to be looked out for if someone is looking for the freshest, most unique hip hop of the time.

Recommended Tunes:
Bucky Done Gun
Hombre
Galang



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Iai
Emeritus
January 15th 2006



3553 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I've still not heard this, but I saw her live a while back. Great show.
Actually, I just got a book called 'The 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die', and this is one of only three albums from 2005 in there.

Scott Herren
January 15th 2006



192 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

There are two good tracks, the rest are annoying. I don't get the hype.

Iai
Emeritus
February 1st 2006



3553 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

What are the other two?

Get Behind Me Satan, and Guero.

Having now heard this, I can report it's pretty average. 6 good songs to 4 bad ones.

The Jungler
February 18th 2006



4827 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I agree with Iai, this album has some great songs, but some of them are downright boring.
Guero one of the albums i have to listen to before i die? thats pretty surprising.

Med57
Moderator
February 18th 2006



1001 Comments


What an incredibly odd selection of 3 albums from 2005 that you have to hear before you die. This really isn't anywhere near as good as a lot of people said it was when it was first released, but it's good enough in its own way, I guess. She has a very interesting background, anyway.

pulseczar
February 18th 2006



2385 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Well now I feel like a hype machine :p Nah I still agree with my rating, but Blender shouldn't have had an album like this at the top of their list of best albums of '05. Or maybe I'm still bitter about actually buying a Blender magazine.

"Freshly Baked"
March 11th 2006



583 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

WOW!! I disagree with all of you completely, this album has raped my fave albums list and Is up there with the big 5 (Ready To Die, Pretty Hate Machine, Discovery, Remedy, and ILLmatic)

Don't worry, I will break down every milisecond of this album in a review very soon....

The Jungler
November 4th 2006



4827 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I have an incredible urge to listen to this now.

Eliminator
December 31st 2006



2067 Comments


Awesome album.

Profile picture is nice

The Jungler
December 31st 2006



4827 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

If Galang had a better video it would be the biggest hit of 05.
Shame.

Profile picture is nice
yes, very



jeremologyy
August 18th 2007



259 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I personally love this album. She is the complete opposite of everything I listen to. Completely. POLAR opposite. But, something about her really reels me in. It's like, you don't immediately think she's unique, but she's good at this. And they're politically charged, which is a nice change. Also, you never bombarded or overwhelmed by the political traits.

She's fantastic!

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
May 5th 2008



4925 Comments


Load up,
Aim,
Fire Fire,
Pop

michaelbchnn
September 14th 2008



41 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Dope album


Zizzer
September 15th 2009



915 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've listened to URAQT a million times in the past week I think.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
December 6th 2009



14884 Comments


i just realized how awesome galang is



like


wow

plane
Staff Reviewer
December 6th 2009



6073 Comments


purple haze galangalangalanga

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
December 6th 2009



14884 Comments


I don't like "Bucky Done Gun" too much; idk all of her songs are 'annoying' in a way but it's just a matter of which ones rub me the right way. I think that more stuff on "Kala" does that because it's a little more melodic. This has some good stuff too, though. I also find her really hot :oops:


galangalangalanga

Maybe I'll review this if I'm bored enough

PlugFour
December 19th 2010



4 Comments


Her best album. I love the tropical feel, and her samples that she uses are great. The only track, which I don't like is Hombre... and even then it's not bad. 99% of this album is phenominal.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
October 14th 2011



14884 Comments


"Bingo" is a complete fucking jam. album is really ridiculously good

someguest
July 11th 2013



18878 Comments


Yeah, this is really good. I found this for dirt cheap.

Digging: BABYMETAL - Babymetal



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