Monday, November 5th, 2007

Me In The Nation:: M.I.A. :: News From Nowhere

Where is my mind?

Need any more bandwith be spent on M.I.A.? Oh yeah, I definitely think so. So here I am, belatedly, writing in The Nation on the question of M.I.A..

A BIG apology to those whom I owe callbacks and emails. I am far far outside of the 48 right now, closer in mindstate and distance to this and this than to this. Like Beres Hammond says, keep holding on.

More on all the rest soon. So many things to say…

For now::

Children–brown-skinned children from Liberia, India, Jamaica and Baltimore, the post-hip-hop nationals of what M.I.A. calls World Town–climb all over the grooves of Kala. Their noise becomes part of the record’s texture: they shriek in delight, laugh and dance; they kick rhymes; they cock guns. Not unlike the fourth season of HBO’s hit The Wire, Kala explores poverty, violence and globalization through the eyes of children left behind. M.I.A.’s London refugee crew sling sugar water, bootleg CDs and color TVs to stay ahead of Border and Immigration, send remittances back to Asia or Africa and survive another day while their parents pray they become accountants. “Why has everyone got hustle on their mind?” she asks.

On the opener, “Bamboo Banga,” a nod to Darkroom Productions’ Baltimore street anthem “Bmore Banga,” she sets up an image of a Hummer speeding across the desert with a quote from the Modern Lovers’ “Roadrunner”: “Roadrunner roadrunner/Going hundred miles per hour/With your radio on.” For Jonathan Richman, it was the sound of postwar innocence, Kerouac in love with the modern world and the open road. For M.I.A., it’s the sound of Green Zone excess, First World abandonment, white flight on wheels. She roll-calls the planet of slums: Somalia, Angola, Ghana, India, Sri Lanka and Burma. “Now I’m sittin’ down chillin’ on some gunpowder/Strike match, light fire,” she raps. “M.I.A. coming back with power power.” Suddenly the setting isn’t the desert; it’s your country–a Lou Dobbs nightmare, the future sheathed in dark skin come home to your streets. “I’m a roadrunner,” she sings. “I’m a world runner.”

Read the whole thang

posted by @ 2:36 pm | 5 Comments

5 Responses to “Me In The Nation:: M.I.A. :: News From Nowhere”

  1. Sean says:

    Probably my favorite piece I’ve ever read on her, Jeff. Incredibly sharp and informed.

  2. Lori S. says:

    This is just a lovely take on MIA, and a needed one too, thank you. I was ambivalent about both Arular and the response to it (the latter not her fault) — but Kala has really impressed me, as have MIA’s interviews about it.

  3. dubmugga says:

    Is she missing inaction ??? nah i don’t think so…

    …shotties cuz

    nice piece…

  4. Anonymous says:

    It’s a well-intentioned cd, but the music and her vocals do not cut it for me this time.

  5. Bay Radical says:

    I loved this article. I had heard a little MIA, liked it OK, but hadn’t stayed to pay attention.

    This piece will push me to give her a second listen.

    Thanks so much.

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