The name Maya Arulpragasam doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. Yet Arulpragasm, more commonly known as M.I.A., is becoming a household name thanks to the August 2007 release of her new CD, Kala.
Because M.I.A. combines types of music such as dancehall, baile funk, and glitchy synths, it is often hard to distinguish whether her sound is one of a sweaty club, or of an out-of-control political riot.
M.I.A. uses addicting hooks that make her political message very memorable. Although it is slightly ridiculous to hear people singing a World Town’s chorus of “Hands up! Guns out! Represent! The World Town!,” M.I.A is able to get her point across in an easily accessible and likeable song.
With a Sri Lankan background and a Tamil Tiger connection (her father was an active member), M.I.A. was considered a threat to the United States. Because of this, she was denied a visa and was not allowed to record in the United States. This hampered her initial plans of working with Timbaland on Kala.
Instead, she recorded in India, Liberia, Trinidad and other countries As she said in an interview with the Village Voice, “The way I did it initially, when I put in a visa application, I was just going to go out and kill time in India.” Rather than having a stereotypical Justin Timberlake-esque (no offence, J.Timbs) album, M.I.A. was able to incorporate musical influences from third world countries into the new record.
With the album representing an audacious jumble of neon colors, gun shots, and traditional Bollywood music, M.I.A. is able to weave different elements of her life into one record.
To say that this album was made strictly for sitting on top of the album charts would be a lie. M.I.A. is running by her own rules and her own politics and is not afraid to scream (on top of a buzzing electronic hum with a few old-school samples) to be heard.
To hear M.I.A.’s funky, original sound, catch her at the Palladium on November 28.