M.I.A.

Po­lit­i­cal ac­tivism via an elec­tro­hip-hop/bhangra sound­clash

Q (UK) - - Maverick -

1 Pull Up The Peo­ple Aru­lar (2005)

Stac­cato bed­lam dom­i­nates in this sparse, edgy, elec­tro­hip-hop cu­rio. “Pull up the poor!” she in­tones, set­ting out her mis­sion state­ment, for­ever.

2 Galang Aru­lar (2005)

Springy, play­ful, squelchy, elec­tro-beat stun­ner, co-writ­ten by one-time Elas­tica singer Justine Frischmann and Pulp’s Steve Mackey. Like a 21st- cen­tury Bow Wow Wow.

3 Bucky Done Gun Aru­lar (2005)

Ex­plo­sive, trum­pet­ing, dance­hall rum­pus fea­tur­ing pro­ducer Di­plo’s Brazil­ian favela at­mo­spher­ics. “Lon­don,” she roars, “qui­eten down I need to make a sound!”

4 Paper Planes Kala (2007)

The Clash’s im­mor­tal Straight To Hell shim­mers back to the cul­tural front­line amid gun shots, cash reg­is­ters and deliri­ous kids’ chant­ing. It re­mains M.I.A.’s biggest hit.

5 Jimmy Kala (2007)

Swoon­ing dancefloor head-spin­ner, with de­mented strings. A re­worked ver­sion of a track orig­i­nally on the sound­track to 1982 Bol­ly­wood film Disco Dancer. Bonkers.

6 Born Free Maya (2010)

Fre­netic punk-rap dis­so­nance. The video, fea­tur­ing ginger kids shot in the desert as a metaphor for vi­o­lence against mi­nori­ties, is tem­po­rar­ily banned by YouTube.

7 Bad Girls Matangi (2013)

Banghra hip-hop banger. Video fea­tures cars ca­reer­ing on two wheels, in the desert. “Live fast, die young, bad girls do it well,” mewls a high-glam M.I.A., tan­ta­lis­ingly.

8 Bring The Noize Matangi (2013)

Rol­lick­ing rush of hiphop chaos, cel­e­brat­ing “freak-d-d-d-d-d-dem!” Ends with the Ja­nis Jo­plin line, “free­dom’s just an­other word for noth­ing left to lose.” Men­tal.

9 Free­dun A.I.M. (2016)

“I’m a swagga man, rollin’ in my swagga van, from the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Swag­gas­tan…” coos M.I.A., while mel­low vo­cals join in from One Di­rec­tion es­capee Zayn Ma­lik.

10 Bor­ders A.I.M. (2016)

Sim­ple, wig­gly, Easterntinged ru­mi­na­tion on to­day’s most press­ing po­lit­i­cal is­sue: bor­ders, police shots, priv­i­lege, boat peo­ple. “What’s up with that?” M.I.A. wants to know, rea­son­ably.

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