Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"I got more records than the KGB"

I'm actually going to waste today's post by spending time to make a brief and obvious comparison between two artists rather than give you a proper review. In 1982 the Clash released Combat Rock, an album that featured songs such as "Straight to Hell," where the group regularly condemned the wrongs that they saw in the world. It was here where they began to experiment more regularly with rap, funk and reggae while coming off as borderline danceable and coincidentally it's on this album that the group reached their widest audience. In 2007 M.I.A. sampled the group's "Straight to Hell" in her song "Paper Planes" and it seems all too entirely fitting a marriage of musical agendas and sounds. Self-describing her album Kala as "shapes, colours, Africa, street, power, bitch, nu world, and brave" you'll be hard pressed to find many artists these days that are able reach the public consciousness with anything this socially conscious...and not shallow (i.e. fuck all that patriotic country bullshit). Tracks from her second release landed in places like Entourage, CSI and even Heroes...a surprising amount of coverage from a woman unafraid of subversive lyrics and who regularly will make obscure regional references (mapping the entirety of nations) presumably lost of those consuming the music. Not all too unlike people twenty-five years who likely couldn't tell you what they meant when singing along to "Rock the Casbah."

That said, Diplo also infused this track with a healthy dose of the classic "Rump Shaker" so maybe the choice of samples means nothing and it all comes down to simply concocting a wholly original and chaotic pop sound as exotic as the multitude of geographic spots on the map that it samples in it's inspired sound. While I don't think it's necessarily intended, M.I.A.'s music without borders and honesty is making me think that a world without borders would not be as enlightened (or safe) as the idealists out there think.

While I obviously agree with the numerous writers citing this as one of the year's best albums, I will wrap up by admitting that I'm not entirely confident that M.I.A. is the activist that critics want to paint her as. Instead I give her the benefit of the doubt. It's all a compelling headjerk, but while I felt the sincerity on Arular and it's direct ties to her personal biography, this time around I tended to feel as if she's using politics to fuel the music rather than using music to expose politics.

M.I.A. - download "Paper Planes"

visit the band
buy the album


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