MIA CD review [XL]



Music Reviews
MIA CD review [XL]
By
Jun 14, 2005, 17:56

M.I.A. Arular CD

Forget M.I.A.'s biography (Maya Arulpragasam, daughter of a Sri Lankan Tamil rebel by way of England). You don't need it to figure out that you're supposed to shake it to the slang mash she's slinging on Arular. M.I.A. layers taunting, nonsense sing-song chants over Diplo's layer of electronic staccatos and heavy bass loops (uh, uh... those are bhangra drums, uh uh... those are steel drums) that's damn familiar. With kids world-wide swallowing hip-hop and melding it to their local beats to tell their troubles, her percolation of reggaeton, dancehall, electronica, and good old hip hop on Arular was inevitable. You've heard these beat-bits by other artists floating in the club ether before, but on Arular, M.I.A. and co-producer Diplo slather them together thick with a swagger.

A second listen to the supposedly nonsense lyrics reveals that some of brashness might come from getting through the harsh realities of an immigrant M.I.A. witnessed, if not experienced, as filtered into her sing-song strut:

“Growin' up, brewin' up/guerilla gettin' trained up  Look out Look out/from over the rooftop” from “Fire, Fire” and…
“Semi-9 and snipered him/On that wall they posted him They cornered him and then just murdered him” from “Sunshowers,” or…
Dial-a-bride from sri lanka/found herself a yorkshire banker Need a visa?/Got with a geezer Need some money?/paid him with her knees up Year later, started to ease up/got her own way, shouted out 'see ya'” from “10.”

But the party is just harder and sweeter between the tough times and you grab your sugar when you can as sung on “Bucky Done Gone” and “Hombre”.

Unfortunately the swagger on Arular did not translate into M.I.A..'s show at Chicago's Metro in May 2005. While Arulpragasam and her backup singer had the dance energy to punctuate Diplo's beats, her vocal presence was limp.  You could visually track the audience enthusiasm fizzle, and hit tracks like “Galang” came too late in the set to lift the crowd into a frenzy. Here's hoping one day she'll own her songs live like she does on Arular. [XL]

-Liz Suarez


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