Sunday, December 30, 2007

The 20 Best Albums of 2007 - "M.I.A.: Kala"

7. You'd think it would be nearly impossible for anyone to top a debut album as well received as Arular, but M.I.A. isn't just any old broad. With the stakes even higher for her follow-up M.IA. managed to beat the expectations on Kala; a record that in many ways is superior to her debut.

Whereas Arular sounded like it was shot out of a cannon with its overt political references set against a backdrop of grimy electro beats, Kala shows M.I.A. looking outward musically while singing about deeply personal themes. This is most likely a byproduct of her visa troubles in 2005-06 making it impossible for her to enter the US and record with Timbaland (among others). The troubles with the INS turned out to be a blessing in disguise as M.I.A. was forced to record with artists all over the musical (and geographic) map.

The sheer amount of genre-bending (Sri Lankan cinema samples, Aboriginal hip hop, dance hall, African hip hop, new wave, dub, afrobeat and so much more) found on this album is so staggering you'd think something this convoluted would surely fall flat on its face. Once again you'd be wrong as M.I.A. continually defies conventional wisdom on Kala by not only redefining the concept of the protest tune (who knew it could be so fun rejecting Anglo-dominated imperialism?), but turning the very notion of pop music on its head.

No comments: