I had this entry going where I was trying to contextualize M.I.A. and talk about influences and stuff, but screw it, truth is I don’t know about about the British music scene to do that. So here’s a 17 meg QuickTime video. Square-wave synth beats — very video-game — with a melodic poppy rap going on over them, and a tribal chorus that takes over the song by the end. The imagery is pop violence; her father is (to some unspecified degree) connected with the Tamil Tigers. Careless appropriation of terrorism chic? Conscious rebranding? Damned if I know.
I sort of think conscious, though. The music’s too pop culture literate for this to be accidental. She name checks Jimi Hendrix and the Clash, and the whole thing is primitive sophisticate: raw talent filtered through limited resources. One Roland synth is all she needed, plus tri-continental influences and bam, there it is. There’s an interview somewhere, I can’t find it again, where she’s talking about her clothing and how in Sri Lanka people just make what they need. That seems to be to be both very true and a very conscious statement about her music slash image.
Insert obligatory Gibson reference here. Seriously, though, this is what he was talking about.
She has a Web site which is huge Flash that takes over your screen. But there’s more music there if you don’t feel like downloading 17 megs. Now, if only the big MP3 archive of her mixtape would come back…
Addendum: there’s a nifty Bollywood/Galang mashup here.