I'm in Love with That Song: The All M.I.A. Edition

Bucky Done Gun
"London, quiet'n down, I need to make a sound!" M.I.A. demands at the start of "Bucky Done Gun," her girl-timbre rattling over a rapid-fire syncopation of booty beats, sub-bass, and a football-stadium horn section. Based on a sample from the DJ Marlboro-produced, Deise Tigrona-performed baile-funk track "Injecao," the hollow boom binds Miami bass and Brazilian pop, and Maya (the diasporic Sri Lankan Londoner) depicts an invasion. "They're bustin' through the window/they're bustin' through the door"--all bass and field-cheer--"I'm armed and I'm equal, more farm for The People." She's both a rebel/populist playing offense and a hip Westerner borrowing or appropriating beats (depending on your dissertation); she tethers her identities the way Rio's favela funk conjoins styles. "Bucky" is her kinetic pictorial of armed revolution, popping and bursting like cartoon combat, including, interestingly, a tiny sample from 2 Live Crew's "Me So Horny." An inadvertent comment on wargasms, perhaps? --Julianne Shepherd

 

Sunshowers
The bomb threats and P.L.O. shout-outs on this 2004 single--which most would consider unremarkable metaphors if spat by a U.S. rapper--are discomforting when placed in the real life-and-death context of the Sinhalese-Tamil conflict (see Samantha Edussuriya's piece, p. 48). (The video, I'm told, makes heroes of the Tamil Tigers; the actual lyrics are elliptical and seem to encompass geopolitical and male-female conflict.) A confused voice for brown-skinned outsiders, though, is still a needed voice, and this one is fiery and funny ("Quit beating me like you're Ringo" is my favorite line). Besides, the music is where the action is. M.I.A. makes the chorus sad and sleek where the fine Dr. Buzzard original is sweet and cute, and producers Ross Orton and Steve Mackey help her distill ten years or so of good pop ideas into a three-minute, no-touching slow dance. --Dylan Hicks

 

Ten Dollar
There are folks who accuse Maya Arulpragasam of putting on accents that don't belong to her, musically and vocally, which she undoubtedly does--and so gleefully and effectively that only a hair-shirted purist would bother complaining. Especially when she throws her voice around like she does here. "What can I get for ten dollar?/Anything you want," a multitracked M.I.A. calls over unstoppable fuzz-bomb bomp-pop, her dizziest and most brilliant moment yet. She sounds like she's trapped in the biggest pinball machine ever manufactured. And what can you get for ten dollar? The song's central character--an underage prostitute. Does Arulpragasam have any more claims to that as a subject than she does to baile funk or crunk or dancehall or whatever the hell else she synthesizes as genres? Of course not. But she brings it--and them--home anyway. --Michaelangelo Matos

 
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