This week’s New Yorker has a piece on Maya Arulpragasam (aka M.I.A.), the Sri Lankan Tamil Londoner, whose singles have been rising on the British charts.
“[M]ost of what you find in the world-music section tends toward the gentle, melodious, and uplifting, as if the world were that way. The music of Maya Arulpragasam, a twenty-seven-year-old Sri Lankan Tamil who moved to England when she was nine and performs under the name M.I.A., is not like that. Anyone who has trolled through bins on Canal Street for videos of kung-fu movies or reggae mix tapes will recognize M.I.A.’s first single, ‘Galang’ (2003), as an example of actual, on-the-ground world culture: synthetic, cheap, colorful, staticky with power. The beat is shuffling and abrasive, made from what sounds like the by-products of some other, more polite song. It most resembles Jamaican dancehall patterns, but with a twist. Alongside the beat runs a distressed motif that may have been a melody before it was Xeroxed fifteen times. The lyrics combine the exhortations of dancehall (‘London calling and speak the slang now, boys say wa, go on girls say wa wa’), the embattled war mentality of American hip-hop . . .”
The article mentioned her song “Sunshowers” which took a melody from one of my recent favorites, “Sunshower” by Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band. So I went in search and found it on her website. Pretty damn good; check it and the rest out.