Thursday, December 20, 2007


It seems music history is filled with examples of bands whose sophomore efforts pale in comparison with the reach of their first albums, e.g., Where is Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! anyway? This isn't the case with M.I.A., whose second album offers more dancehall/grime mashup. However, this time around, the lyrics are less effective, less threatening, and certainly more novel than what Arular sought to define.

The threat of M.I.A. being turned into just another "female" musician, in contrast with the forceful author of politically-charged work -- regardless of gender -- is more evident with the release of Kala. Remember, however trendy politically-charged lyrics might be, and however nichy, M.I.A. has refined this trend. Whereas Arular was noteworthy for exalting a unique and raw female perspective, Kala comes off as Fiona Apple-gone-grime. Even violent lyrics on Kala seem caricatured now. The insidiousness of stressing the feminine in M.I.A. is the same tactic that "deflects" and renders her individuality moot and her politics into parody. This is clearly the market's/record industry's attempt at turning M.I.A. into one more vulnerable, twee and harmless female performer.

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