Caribbean Queen

MIA-pitchfork.jpgWho dat? Why, that’s your girl M.I.A., doin’ the damn thing in Jamaica during a video shoot last week; a tipster on the news tab blessed us with a link to this and several other photos from the shoot posted at hip arbiter Pitchfork Media. Apparently the sister’s new album, called Kala, drops in August; we’ve already gotten down to “Bird Flu” a few months ago, and now if you check the Pitchfork item you’ll find a link to a MySpace page that offers a stream of another new song (though not on the album), called “Hit That.” The topic is, um, exactly what it sounds like — a pure sex/party jam, containing interpolations of previous classics of the genre like Wreckx-N-Effect’s “Shake Your Rump.” Anyway make of the music what you will, but I’m digging the pan-Third World aesthetic that M.I.A.’s been putting forward of late in her videos and indeed, her choice of settings; she’s a reverse ambassador of mash-up globalization, bringing it back to its multiple sources, and the brown skins, big butts and ramshackle backdrops express a politics far more creative, democratic and satisfying than the tired and tendentious tigers of her first go-round.

48 thoughts on “Caribbean Queen

  1. the new tracks are heavy, her myspace has more pixs too. and shes in London in a few weeks. well good what!

    cool post sidd!

  2. The wild colors makes me think of the JAMZ shorts we used rock summertimes back in the day..:)

  3. Her music is so trashy ! Dunno why they choose her and made her famous..

  4. You forgot to mention the first single off the new record Boyz, which keeps the ethno-grime vibe going. From the sound of things already, I am really looking forward to Kala.

  5. To quote Dave Chappelle: “Why you always acting like all I want to do is a zoom zoom zoom in your boom boom”

  6. I just bought her “Arular” C.D. online about two hours ago. I can’t wait for this new one to drop…her music is just so different from anything else I hear out there and I have so much respect for that. I heard that MTV banned some of her songs but I don’t know if that’s true.

  7. They had one of her songs, galang galang as the background music for a Honda Civic commercial that was playing last year..

  8. anyone know the reason she named the album ‘kala?’

    Kala is a popular Tamil name for girls. Also in certain dialects it means happiness. But dont know the reason why she named it that way.

  9. I thought Kala means to mix in tamil. ‘Kalai’ tends to be a popular Tamil name. Can someone clarify though?

  10. To quote Dave Chappelle: “Why you always acting like all I want to do is a zoom zoom zoom in your boom boom”

    That is a beautiful quote. I will surely use it today, thank you, ShallowThinker.

  11. I thought Kala means to mix in tamil. ‘Kalai’ tends to be a popular Tamil name. Can someone clarify though?
    Doesn’t ‘kala’ mean art in Malyalam?

    Actually “Kalai”(with an i) means art in Tamil too. And yes Kala(pronounced kalaa) and Kalai(mani,vaanan) are popular names in Tamil. “Kalakku” means mix, but it could also be Srilankan Tamil slang for “mixing it up”.

  12. What is it with the Lankans and blonde highlights? Will someone please introduce them to this thing we call a mirror?!

  13. While I like MIA, I couldn’t help but be a bit dismayed by her photos. Desis are always talking about how they dislike when non-desis use elements of our culture superficially. But how do we feel when desis do the same thing to others? Are we as critical? Isn’t she using Jamaicans to raise her “hip” factor?

  14. yes, KALA means art. for those of you who checked out the link to her “Boyz” song – is that dude grabbing her boob? think it was part of the plan or a jamaican that just couldn’t resist…………..

  15. I like her and she always tries to make everything fresh and original. Even though she has some controversial lyrics that have been questioned, despite that she never rests or does the formula thing and in the world of desi arts and creativity that is the best and most needful thing and she’s out there. Respect.

  16. What is it with the Lankans and blonde highlights? Will someone please introduce them to this thing we call a mirror?!

    Lasith Malinga and MIA chose highlights for very different reasons, methinks. Malinga is going for the beach-bum/jack-terrier-trapped-in-a-salon look, as he’s from Galle (a beach town), and MIA is doing it for no self-conscious reason.

    Sri-Lankans, however, do have a reputation for liking the corniest of all pop culture creations. I can never forget the amount of time i spent in a successful relative’s beemer, cruising around Colombo whilst blasting avril lavigne and shania twain out of overdriven speakers. That was the cream of Colombo’s society.

  17. “What is it with the Lankans and blonde highlights? Will someone please introduce them to this thing we call a mirror?!”

    I see more Indians/bangladeshis/trinis/guyanese girls who dye their hair than sri lankans..

    and if you see a brown guy with dyed hair you can assuredly say he’s probably not sri lankan (unless he’s possibly sinhalese)

  18. While I like MIA, I couldn’t help but be a bit dismayed by her photos. Desis are always talking about how they dislike when non-desis use elements of our culture superficially. But how do we feel when desis do the same thing to others? Are we as critical? Isn’t she using Jamaicans to raise her “hip” factor?

    hey, desis have some stake in jamaican culture! after all, who introduced ganga to them?!

  19. Sri-Lankans, however, do have a reputation for liking the corniest of all pop culture creations.

    Now we’re shaaring the same dreeaam And our hearts they beat as wuh-unnnn no mo looove on th-

    Huh..what’s that you say? Corny? Dunno about your ick lickle richie cousin, but we do appreciate the best that Europe and the Australipacirim has to offer. It wasn’t Beatles v The Stones in my youth…we had fisticuffs over ABBA v Boney M.

  20. we had fisticuffs over ABBA v Boney M.

    Wow, Boney M. Haven’t heard their name in ages! Glad to see M.I.A. in the Caribbean. In the pictures it seems as if she’s receiving some dance instructions; young Jamaicans seem to create a new dance every month or so. As long as she’s not doing the dutty wine I’m OK with it.

  21. While I like MIA, I couldn’t help but be a bit dismayed by her photos. Desis are always talking about how they dislike when non-desis use elements of our culture superficially. But how do we feel when desis do the same thing to others? Are we as critical? Isn’t she using Jamaicans to raise her “hip” factor?

    While I feel you, Vijay, a lot of MIA’s music is deeply rooted in the mixin’ it up that happens pretty regularly in the UK. She’s used Caribbean influences for a long time, and it’s not as easy to do a straight analysis from a U.S. perspective, imo.

    I’m excited, she is one of my fave albums to just dance around the house to. Still can’t tell what she’s saying, but does it matter, really? :)

  22. While I like MIA, I couldn’t help but be a bit dismayed by her photos. Desis are always talking about how they dislike when non-desis use elements of our culture superficially. But how do we feel when desis do the same thing to others? Are we as critical? Isn’t she using Jamaicans to raise her “hip” factor?

    We gave the Jamaicans ganja, it’s only fair that they reciprocate

  23. Dunno about your ick lickle richie cousin, but we do appreciate the best that Europe and the Australipacirim has to offer.

    what i didn’t mention is that everyone in the car got there (their social station) by accident of birth, except for my cousin. It’s hard playing Mr. Ambiguous Ethnicity and Native Singhala Speaker with a last name like he had (changed.)

    but corniness isn’t exactly a bad thing. Isn’t that part of the appeal of baila? Especially the old stuff my relatives play at gatherings where lyrics are often cribbed from western standards?

    forgive me for the blanket statement but I often wondered about Lankans choices in music after that visit, assaulted on all sides by Canadian teen-agers, Canadian country-sex crooners and one perpetually angry fool from Detroit.

    some of my older cousins listened to pink floyd nonstop but I’m not sure if that qualifies as hip.

  24. That link takes you to a myspace page devoted to something called Bangladesh Production Co.! Uncles and Aunties, even Kelis “Bossy” comes from India, Bangladesh!

    One night during finals, not too long ago, I spent a lot of time trying to understand what inspires Shondrae “Mr Bangladesh” Crawford… here it is:

    “You know how you make up a word and use it for whatever? We used Bangladesh like that, for anything. It got the bang in it. It’s a foreign country and people always say my beats are crazy and different so they’re foreign to the ear. Bangladesh is foreign to the ear and Bangladesh bangs the best, so I started putting it before all the beats,” Mr. Bangladesh explains.

    That’s what’s up.

  25. Yikes, Maya reminds me of Christina Aguilera in the David LaChapelle video here. I prefer her sultry jungle girl look, but change is good, I think.

  26. MIA’s music is aight, but take it from a guyanese there is a much better mix out there soca/chutney/bhangra mix is awesome

  27. I’m not sure if it’s a secret or not, but Kala is her moms name (or nickname). That’s what my mom calls her anyway.

  28. “Anyway make of the music what you will, but I’m digging the pan-Third World aesthetic that M.I.A.’s been putting forward of late in her videos and indeed, her choice of settings”

    But she wouldnt be MIA if she stuck to one thing.

    “she’s a reverse ambassador of mash-up globalization, bringing it back to its multiple sources, and the brown skins, big butts and ramshackle backdrops express a politics far more creative, democratic and satisfying than the tired and tendentious tigers of her first go-round.”

    Im not sure I understand this reverse ambassador thing so much but this whole style you see in these pics is pretty much a continuation of the style she already had on Arular. I hope theres not as much Tiger imagery this time around but didnt you catch the very end of the Bird Flu vid?

    While i dont agree to Vijay’s thoughts on MIA’s would be appropriation of Caribbean music/art, I do agree, as an east asian that we asians in general are all in this “oh, look the west’s rippin us off again” phase when if anyone’s kept score to date, the east rippin the west is at a much higher tally. But doesnt it just come down to good art/bad art?

  29. Her hair looks terrible AND she really has nothing of substance to say. I really do dislike this woman for the Tamil tiger glorification and it won’t forgotten no matter how much she tries to distance herself now. The dancehall look and sound will wow and surprise the sheltered fans but it really aint nothiing new. I agree with the Guyanese Jen too. Having visited Trinidad 2 years age with my desi-Trini neighbour the sounds and sights there were far more wicked then anything this little pretender could come up with.