Monday, 30 March 2015

"You know who I am..."

M.I.A. is someone whose music I really admire, though I have to say I'm a little torn about the artist herself. A British-Tamil, born Mathangi Arulpragasam (we share the same birthday, though she's four years younger), she is described (on Wikipedia, anyway) as "singer, songwriter, rapper, visual artist, activist, record producer, photographer, fashion designer, model" which is rather impressive, I suppose. Either way, it's her music I'm interested in, and some of it is very interesting indeed.

To be honest, I'm really not a fan of electronic music, but sometimes it can have as much of an impact as a dozen squalling guitars coming at you at light speed. Very few achieve this, but M.I.A. certainly has her moments. One of the things I like most about her is how she doesn't shy from experimentation. One of my favourite songs is Steppin' Up from her third album 'Maya' (2010) which is built around the sounds of power tools. Hard as friggin' nails, this track.

She also isn't afraid to use other people's stuff in her songs, often to great effect. $20 from 2007's 'Kala' is based on the bassline of Blue Monday and incorporates segments of Pixies' Where Is My Mind. From the same album, the single Paper Planes uses the instantly recognisable riff from the Clash's Straight To Hell.

I like artists who intrigue me and challenge my perceptions. This is why I always look forward to a new M.I.A. record - you never quite know what you're going to get. That said, I wasn't over struck on last year's 'Matangi' album, but that might just be me. As for M.I.A. herself, well I can't help but think she's a bit of a shameless self-publicist. Her politics are dodgy to say the least, even if her heart is in the right place, and her antics at the Superbowl with Madonna in 2012, and the graphic violence depicted in her video for Born Free do make you wonder if she's deliberately courting controversy in a bid to be noticed. However, she also does a lot of philanthropic work, including building schools in Liberia, helping war crime victims and supporting a children's cancer charity.

Either way, I prefer to stick to the music, so here's the tunes I mentioned above.


No comments:

Post a Comment