M.I.A. – Arular (2005): Review

Label – XL/Interscope
Produced by Switch,Paschal Byrne,Diplo,KW Griff,Steve Mackey,Ross Orton,Anthony Whiting & Richard X

“Arular” is one of those recordings where the listener has to bypass the swooning hyperbole liberally generated by the music press. One can kind of understand the reason for the extraordinary media hype that surrounded this record by asking a simple question. What do you compare it to? Historically, credible female UK based hip hop artists are about as abundant as popular Sri Lankan death metal bands. In addition, even fewer expressed themselves with revolutionary sensibilities to emphasise the gunshot beats, and thudding bass rhythms. Maya Arulpragasam’s (A.K.A. M.I.A) story adds a genuine realism to much of the aggression, bitterness and lyrical adventure that laces “Arular”. The daughter of a Tamil insurgent, her family found refuge in the less than exotic surroundings of South London as council tenants, and given her difficult upbringing one can only admire her ability to mix the gritty reality of home with hip hop, electro, and Rio-baile funk.

As a complete listening experience, “Arular” is best exemplified by the excellent singles “Bucky Done Gone” and “Galang”. The rhythms and rhymes are powerful, even if the musicality is limited and the language is at times repetitive. Maya and producer Diplo rely on truck heavy beats and minimal tunes, which over the course of the record leads to a lack of sonic variety and an impression that there isn’t much separating the tracks other than b.p.m. Her follow up to this, 2007’s “Kala”, is far more diverse and for new inductee’s is a superior introduction to M.I.A’s world.

“Arular” is challenging, but don’t get trapped by the media into thinking this is the defining moment in female hip hop artistry.

6/10

A1 Banana Skit 0:36
A2 Pull Up the People 3:45
A3 Bucky Done Gun 3:47
B1 Freedom Skit 0:42
B2 Fire Fire 3:28
B3 Amazon 4:16
C1 One for the Head Skit 0:29
C2 Hombre 4:02
C3 Bingo 3:12
D1 10 Dollar 4:01
D2 Sunshowers 3:15
D3 Galang 3:35

Galang

Sunshowers

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