Friday, November 16

You gotta ask yourself the question: If your first album was critically acclaimed by damn near everyone on the planet and you stood a chance of becoming really hot shit with a second album, what you do? Would you just make the same record again, but with a pop sheen? Or would you dive in—like a true artist—and just get fucking crazy. In this era of blatant opportunists, M.I.A. is an icon. The fact that she made a daring, danceable record (2005’s Arular) and possessed a lovely exotic charm (she’s Sri Lankan) put her in a position to be a global star. Who knows if she was aware of the hype or not, but her latest, Kala, proves she doesn’t care. Whereas Arular contained traces of Madonna, Peaches, and NWA, Kala is simultaneously glitchy, grimy, erratic, rhythmic, dizzying, narcotizing, sexy, and confrontational. Listening to her cherry-pick global sounds is like taking a motorcycle ride through the congested, exhaust-choked streets of every city in the world. Kala is a beast not easily defined, and I like to think of it as M.I.A.’s way of telling us that the cultures of the world aren’t either.

Listen to a sample of MIA's "Big Branch."

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Fri., Nov. 16, 8 p.m., 2007

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