M.I.A.'s new album Kala, without question, is awesome for shakin' your ass. Stellar for car dancing, amazing for cleaning dancing, perfect for cooking dancing, and effin' fabulous for show dancing - she was in Minneapolis last week at First Avenue. I saw the show, and as my friend John said, we "danced our faces off. I don't have a face anymore."
But there's more to M.I.A.'s music than ass shaking. Like Arular, her first album, Kala samples world music melodies, beats, and artists (for example "Mango Pickle Down River" features The Wilcannia Mob, a hip-hop group of 5 aboriginal boys from New South Wales, Australia). More significantly, she also incorporates the unveiled, confrontational twist of global political and social statements and themes. She samples on the unpredictable, sometimes volatile atmosphere of countries deemed "Third World", with her lyrics (from "World Town" - "Hands up!/Guns out!/Represent!/The World Town!") and her beats (please count the gun shot sounds - just try, or the sirens that are reminiscent of air raids). Anyone who has listened to her lyrics, read reviews, or heard an interview knows that M.I.A. has opinions, and isn't afraid to put 'em out there.
I'm going to highlight "$20", it was a hard choice between that and "Bamboo Banga" (that song makes me dance!). But I really love $20. Formally, I like the way it is mixed - the soaring, beautiful melodic vocals in the opening sequence and the chorus are in awesome contrast to heavy, rhythmic rapping on the verses, the dark, thick beats, and the omnipresent crashes/gunshot sounds. It's a little woozy, a little dizzying, and very kickass. Lyrically, she pulls in a whole lot. Read 'em, see what you think for yourself. They seem pretty accurate to the song, I tried my best to correct the errors I noticed, but if something seems really wrong, leave a comment and I'll fix it.
War, war, war!
Talkin' bout y'all's such a bore,
I'd rather talk about moi!
Like do you know the cost of A.K.'s up in Africa?
20 dollars ain't shit to you,
but that's how much they are
So they gonna use the shit just to get by
Is those diamonds
Don't you like my bandanna?
My stains hang low
on my shirts like ayayay
Monkey brains and banana
I'll hit you with my antenna
I put soap in my eye
Make it red so I look raaa!
So I woke up with my holy Koran
and found out I like Cadillac
So we shooting 'til the song is up
Little boys are acting up
Baby mothers are going crazy
And the leaders all aroound
We goat rich, we fry
Price of living in a shanty town
Just seems very high
We still like T.I.
we still look fly
Dancin' as we shootin' up,
and lootin' just to get by.
With your feet on the air and your head on the ground
Try this trick and spin it, yeah
Your head'll collapse if there's nothing in it
and you'll ask yourself:
"Where is my mind?"
War, war, war!
Who made me like this?
Was it me and God in co-production?
My devil's on speed dial
every time I take the wrong direction.
All I want is one thing, and that is what you got.
Sometimes I go lose my mind and then I feel numb.
There's 24 hours in a day
I used to split it 8-8-8
8 for play
Now I give it all it takes.
People on the Internet
A new life for the intellect
People judge me so hard
coz I don't floss my titty set (?!)
I was born out of dirt like I'm porn in a skirt
I was a little girl who made good with all that blurt
I put people on a map that never seen a map
I show 'em somethin' that they've never seen
and hope they make it back...
Here's a video of the song from a show in LA on 11/9/07 - not too bad a recording. I was really hoping for a Mpls recording, but YouTube did not provide.