Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Music Diaries: Why I Love M.I.A.

I am a picky music listener.  It's very rare when someone has the power to come along and inspire me to become a fan; M.I.A. has done just that.  My first conscious exposure to M.I.A. was in 2007, when the video for her single "Boyz" popped up on VH1 Soul.  I was intrigued, to say the least, as the rhythm of the afro-beat forced my body to move involuntarily and the colorful patterns spun around on screen, casting a dizzying spell.  From that moment on I was hooked, looking up video after video of this hidden artist, wondering, why am I just finding her out?

M.I.A. is great not only because her beats are hot, but she (at times superficially) infuses seemingly meaningless lyrics with political messages primarily about the 3rd world. She also has the looks and the rap swag to boot. In celebration of  this amazingness that is M.I.A.,  I have listed my personal top 5 M.I.A. songs. Enjoy!

1. Sunshowers

This song combines all of M.I.A.s strengths in one.  Sunshowers shows off M.I.A's story telling ability as well as her knack for making a political statement.  My favorite line is "He got Colgate on his teeth and Reebok Classics on his feet/at a factory he does Nike and then helps the family".  This one line highlights the theme of the song; the irony in the relationship b/w the 3rd world and Westernized countries.  Finally, in true M.I.A. form, the beat is dope!

2. 10 Dollar

This is one of M.I.A.'s more fun songs. The premise is debatable, but I believe the song details the life of a Chinese prostitute who is all about making money and living the fab life.  This is one of my faves because its a rare subject to rap about and also unexpected. This song is another homage to the story telling abilities of M.I.A.

3. Bad Girls

One of M.I.A.'s newest hits from her Vicki Leekx mixtape, this song is a nice comeback from her disappointing 3rd Album, MYA.  Once again, a banging beat and a nice F U to the illegality of women driving in Saudi Arabia.

4. Hombre

Another gift that M.I.A. has is the ability to set the tone for a specific place.  In this song, the setting is Brazil and it starts off in Portuguese:"Oi Garato, piga mina numero"...basically the classic scenario of a dude tryna holla at a girl.  The unexpected surprise of her starting a song off in a different language and the infectious "ayyyyys" that she drops throughout the song makes it a guaranteed top 5 in my book.

5.  Paper Planes

This is one of my first favorite M.I.A. songs and probably her most commercially successful hit (part of the reason it's only number 5).  I hated the remixed version with Jay-Z but was glad the original song was strong enough on it's own for commercial audiences. This song is just dope in every way.  My favorite line: "M.I.A. ..Third World democracy..yea I got more records than the KGB so uhh no funny business.."

Honorable Mention: Hussel

I am always on the fence about this song.  It may be the addition of the rap verse by Afrikan Boy, who is not as strong of a rapper as M.I.A., but that's precisely this reason why I love this song even more.  This song was my initial exposure Afrikan Boy and without M.I.A putting him on I would have never heard of him.  His rap verse helped set the tone for this song that details the hustler's spirit that permeates the 3rd world.  This line alone, "Ehhh Afrikan Boy, you know I'm big in Mozambique, eh ehh," makes this song worth a mention.  M.I.A.'s verse on this song is also my favorite M.I.A. verse of all time.

Are you an M.I.A. fan? What are some of your favorite M.I.A. songs?


  1. On Paper Planes " This song is just dope in every sense of the word" it's crazy because he actually has messages in a lot of her music but because a lot of it is so instrumental heavy people fall in love with just the surface. Pretty dope artist though, I like Caps Lock but I'm sure you don't since you didn't like that album

  2. Yea I wasn't feeling it so to be honest I never listened to that song.. I did kind of like XXXO but Thanks for the recommendation!