To say M.I.A.’s debut album Arular has been highly anticipated is like saying Jessica Alba is fairly attractive in Sin City.
Every “hip” magazine in the country has been talking up the Sri Lankan by-way-of-England reggaeton/hip-hop/pop soon-to-be superstar. But anyone with a pulse would be excited after listening to the underground mixtape of M.I.A. songs combined with popular rap beats produced by Diplo, Piracy Funds Terrorism Vol 1.
So it comes as no surprise, to me and to many others, that the album is seductively gorgeous. And by seductive I mean it beats so hard and beeps and blips so much, that by the end of the record you will surprised at how attracted you are to it.
“Galang,” the lead single and last track on the album is the pinnacle of Maya Arulpragasm’s catchy creativity in songwriting. It is just plain addictive in its loud crash-bang drums and simply giddy chorus, “ga la ga la ga la lang ga lang ga lang.”
The album permeates with foot-stomping anthems and simple head-nodding hooks, from the hopeful “Pull Up The People” to the insane (in a good way) “Bucky Done Gun.”
The second single from the colorfully packaged album is “Sunshowers,” which has perhaps the most “normal” chorus of all the songs, but that doesn’t stop it from being among the highlights of the record. The words here ring true of the entire album, “From Congo to Columbo/Can’t stereotype my thing yo.”
There are often musical interludes between tracks that include Nintendo-like sounds over grimy-beats and the occasional gunfire. The effect creates arresting curiosity concerning what is going on under the surface of all these wild beats.
Though much of the album’s press has rested on the political and socially charged atmosphere of Arular and M.I.A., the record neither requires nor really benefits from an understanding of those issues. They do offer a separate, equally enjoyable viewpoint, but what is central to the record is the globally understandable music that M.I.A. has created.
Whether in a club in Miami, the poorest areas of South Asia or in a dorm room at the U of I; this music reaches the inner beat in us all and joins a growing movement (galangton/reggaeton/grime) towards more unique and surprisingly universal sounds in contemporary hip-hop.