M.I.A. (Rap): Maya Arulpragasam.
Recording information: 2004.
M.I.A.'s ARULAR marks the arrival of an explosive new voice in popular music. The brainchild of Sri Lankan MC Maya Arulpragasam, the music of M.I.A. ("Missing in Action") reflects her harried, transient upbringing. The daughter of a revolutionary member of the controversial Tamil Tigers, Arulpragasam settled in London as a teenager, where she went on to study fine art and film at the Central Saint Martin's School of Art. After being hired by Justin Frischmann to document an Elastica tour, Frischmann inspired Arulpragasam to write songs of her very own.
The result is a dizzying assault to the senses, a sound that incorporates so many different styles it seems almost incomprehensible. Fortunately, it sounds incredible. Equal parts grime, electronica, hip-hop, dancehall, and straight-up club music, ARULAR demands listeners find the nearest dance floor and get down to it. But making ferociously danceable music isn't Arulpragasam's only goal. Spouting politically charged lyrics in an aggressive chanting style, M.I.A. reminds her audience that while music might provide a temporary escape, it can't erase the senseless violence that continues to plague the world. Powerful and gleefully audacious, ARULAR is world music at its most electrifying.
What the critics say…
Rolling Stone (No. 968, p.70) - 4 stars out of 5 - "You've never heard anything like M.I.A. - the sound of jump-rope rhymes in a war zone….[ARULAR is] weird, playful, unclassifiable, sexy, brilliantly addictive…"
Spin (p.65) - Ranked #2 in Spin's "40 Best Albums Of 2005" - "[I]mprovised, explosive, and for once, redemptive."
Spin (p.88) - "ARULAR will likely be the best political album this year." - Grade: A
Entertainment Weekly (p.143) - Ranked #8 in Entertainment Weekly's 'Top Ten Records of the Year' -- "ARULAR is the place where dance music, hip-hop, techno, novelties, and a slinky British accent meet and have a wicked good time."
Entertainment Weekly (No. 815, p.85) - "[A]s instantly infectious as it is hard to pin down. The music is literally all over the map…" - Grade: A-
Uncut (p.98) - 4 stars out of 5 - "A spiky starburst of raw beats and exotic collisions, ARULAR already sounds like a landmark debut album."
The Wire (p.43) - Included in The Wire's "2005 Rewind: 50 Records Of The Year."
The Wire (p.63) - "It's chockfull of machine gun beats, seismic sub-bass, fragments of raga and bhangra, and above all that voice."
Vibe (p.142) - "[T]he dynamo from London showcases her talent for the spoken word…"
Mojo (Publisher) (p.60) - Ranked #29 in Mojo's "The 50 Best Albums Of 2005" - "[H]ell-bent on fingerpopping agit-prop like Public Enemy messing with the B-52s."