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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Arular

M.I.A.

2005

Buy At Rough Trade
Arular
Album Summary

Arular is the debut studio album by British recording artist M.I.A. It was released on 22 March 2005 in the United States, and one month later in the United Kingdom, with a slightly different track listing. In 2004, the album's release was preceded by two singles and a mixtape. M.I.A. wrote or co-wrote all the songs on the album, while collaborators included Justine Frischmann, Switch, Diplo, Richard X, Ant Whiting and Greg "Wizard" Fleming. The album's title is the political code name used by her father, Arul Pragasam, during his involvement with Sri Lankan Tamil militant groups, and themes of conflict and revolution feature heavily in the lyrics and artwork. Musically, the album incorporates styles that range from hip hop and electroclash to dancehall, baile funk, and punk. M.I.A. created the basic backing tracks using a Roland MC-505 sequencer/drum machine given to her by long-time friend Frischmann. Arular was lauded by critics for its blending of styles and integration of political lyrics into dance tunes. It was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2005 and was included in the 2005 edition of the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Although it only reached number 98 on the UK Albums Chart and number 190 on the US Billboard 200, several publications named it as one of the best albums of the year. By mid-2007, the album had sold 129,000 copies in the US, Arular spawned the singles "Sunshowers", "Bucky Done Gun" and "Galang", which was released twice.

Wikipedia

Rating

2.85

Votes

9255
Genres
Hip Hop
Electronica

Reviews

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Mon Jul 17 2023
2

I guess I didn't think M.I.A. was influential enough to be on here more than once.

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Fri Jul 21 2023
1

An album where every song is a seizure.

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Wed Aug 02 2023
4

A true fusion album; I can't classify it as one specific genre. It is cool to see explicit political messaging outside of its usual mediums like rap and punk. A few of the songs are really catchy, and I like the overall 2000s liminal vibes.

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Tue Dec 05 2023
1

For fucks sake... this is like one terrible song on repeat.

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Sat Dec 09 2023
1

Really didn't like this. Repetitive, amateurish. I struggled to listen all the way through. The vocals - which only seem to have one gear - and rhythm are not interesting at all. Very disappointing.

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Thu Aug 24 2023
4

I'm not sure what I expected but I sure didn't expect to end up totally digging this album. It's weird, wild, compelling, and completely different from anything else I've heard. I don't know, it's just really great. Gonna need to give this one several more listens.

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Wed Jul 26 2023
3

stop sayin crazy shit bout vaccines, lady

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Thu Dec 21 2023
1

This is obnoxious. I couldn't make it more than two songs in. From a one-hit-wonder to two albums on this list is a tragedy.

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Fri Dec 22 2023
1

Basically just annoying through the first few songs so in a radical act of self care, I am not forcing myself to listen to this entire album

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Wed Jan 10 2024
1

I can't stand M.I.A.'s music the second time around here either (and no, I did not consider M.I.A.'s music worthy of a second entry here to begin with).

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Thu Aug 10 2023
5

I loved this. Fired me up. I've enjoyed every song I've ever heard by MIA, so I'm kicking myself for not checking out this banger before.

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Fri Aug 18 2023
5

J'ai trouvé ca trop nice. M.I.A a un style vraimenta elle pour ces années. En plus c'est son premier album. vraiment nice. C'est pas pour toutes les occasions mais, comme on dit, ''it grows on you'' et quand tu arrives a la derniere chanson tu es hook. 5

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Thu Aug 24 2023
5

Enjoyed it quiet a lot. Very interesting snappy beats on this one. There wasn't really any song that I didn't enjoy. Maybe the skit/intermissions could've been left out. Thankfully there are just 3 of them and they're not that annoying to pull me out of the experience.

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Sat Aug 26 2023
5

Truly one of the pioneers of the experimental crossover sounds that exist in today's music. A very fun listen, with interludes that flow as well.

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Wed Sep 20 2023
5

9/10 godDAMN I love M.I.A.! she’s got such an interesting, one-of-a-kind style that deserves to be commended

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Wed Oct 04 2023
5

M.I.A. is a trailblazing female rapper

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Fri Oct 27 2023
5

M.I.A. swaggers in. Boombox booming in one hand, the other hand texts acronyms to friends flung far away. It's hard to pin her down, with her Caribbean lilts, her Bristolian beats, her Arabic patois, her Mr. Oizo synths, her Acton shout-outs. Arular's fantastic. Music from the most bombastic sources distilled through a cocky self-assured artist with a real knack for hooks. It's quite the cocktail.

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Fri Oct 27 2023
5

Late review: Christian asked to put on an album over breakfast, he wanted to know what I thought of it. I immediately begin grooving to the beats... niceeee He said that I should look at what Sam and Caitlin thought of it... "Why? Did Caitlin say she wants to vomit?" --- M.I.A. , I'm sorry I haven't checked out more of your stuff, other than those classic paper planes... I'll fly away with you on any type of plane, rootless to any land together, and we can listen to this album on the way. I like the hooks, the beat, the sass, the delivery, the grit, the strength, the venture, the lack of boundaries... the rhythms, rhythms, rhythms. I'm confused, thrilled, and I like it.

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Wed Nov 22 2023
5

Weird and wonderful, with a head-spinning array of genres and styles. Very english, very sri Lankan and Indian too. Feels like walking through London or one of the other great cultural melting pots of our time. I loved it

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Fri Nov 24 2023
5

I love this album. More than Kala. I don't know why but it just bumps so hard from start to finish. Sunshowers, Bucky Done Gun, Galang... all classics.

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Sun Nov 26 2023
5

In your face, a difficult and wonderfully fun listen.

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Wed Dec 13 2023
5

Politically charged lyrics over some insane beats. Perfection

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Wed Dec 13 2023
5

WOW. Where has she been all my life? I absolutely loved this album. Beats set my day up to be a good one. So inventive and different, especially at that time.

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Mon Jan 01 2024
5

Genial, eindringlich, anders, stark aber nicht aggro

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Fri Jan 05 2024
5

After talking to many folks about this album? From here and abroad? It's a very different story. When Galang dropped in 04 in Sydney Australia? We went nuts. Not just a lil rowdy? Nuts. So when Arular came out in 05? It became the banger of the year. A month and a half later Trent Reznor drops With Teeth and then goes on record saying that he wishes his album was as dynamic Arular by M.I.A. Immediately sending the flag out to work with her. Everyone who was everyone wanted this girl to work with them. So I can understand why this album is in the list of things you need to listen to? Cause if you think about the scene back then with everyone complaining about "real instruments"? And the flood of faux garage and rock groups? Jet, The Hives, The Strokes, White Stripes and all of that? Out of nowhere comes a refugee banger that took on all the war sentiments feeling at the time and made folks dance through it. It's a real important album if you know why it came to fruition and how that product shifted aforementioned Trent Reznor's mind set for the next incarnation of NIN when he broke free from all the record labels. The Slip Hesitation Marks The rise and fall of Niggy Tardust - Saul William's album he produced? Yo... this record hit the right people and changed how music was heard. Kudos MIA

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Tue Jan 23 2024
5

I love M.I.A. But that rework of the Sanford and Son theme on U.R.A.Q.T. took my love to the next level. Is there nothing M.I.A. Can’t do?

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Tue Jan 23 2024
5

Totally catchy yet completely unpredictable. I so appreciate M.I.A.'s unique sound!

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Tue Jan 23 2024
5

This one is a winner! Such a cool and unique sound.

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Mon Jul 17 2023
4

M.I.A.'s debut Arular is much stronger than her more popular follow-up. Arular features all of the forward-thinking hip hop production and memorable international influence without any of the low points. While I don't care for the skits, they're short enough that you don't have to worry about them ruining the experience. M.I.A. is a good rapper who brings excellent energy to match the production on each of the tracks. Some songs are better demonstrations of her MCing than others, but the album is still an outstanding look at the kinds of new directions that hip hop was exploring in the early 2000's.

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Fri Jul 21 2023
4

What a wild ride! This is a unique sound that everyone deserves to hear before they die. Hate it or love it, it’s worth hearing. I for one, am struck. The somewhat-industrial, electronic music is captivating. I find the artist’s story to be part of the appeal. A visual artist that happened to play around with a 505 drum machine. She tried to find others to supply the vocals with no luck so she did it herself. Inspiring stuff. And a sonically stimulating experience.

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Thu Aug 10 2023
4

I don't know much about Sri Lanka except for its location and the fact they had a civil war that lasted 25 years. AND I learned these two facts because when I first heard M.I.A. she was singing 9 months pregnant (on her due date no less!) at the Grammys. She performed Paper Planes. That swagger alone made me fall in love and want to learn more about this dynamite artist. I was not familiar with this one but really enjoyed the album. The mix of genres combined with her own cultural mix just delights me and makes me realize this world is so damn big and it's immigrants like M.I.A. who shine a lens back on our own culture so we can learn more. (Fun fact: two of the Beastie Boys are in her Paper Planes video at the very end)

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Thu Aug 10 2023
4

I wish Paper Planes was on this album. It’s my favourite M.I.A. song. Notwithstanding that, this had me bouncing in my seat and I love her global, kleptomaniac approach to mixing styles with a political stance to boot. I haven’t felt so physically inclined to dance along for a while - so - bonus!! Going to listen to Bad Girls now. This has actually made me happy.

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Mon Aug 14 2023
4

Number two from MIA, with no hits in sight. Still, another testament to how talented and creative she is (was?) as an artist. Such pronounced style, it's obvious why this list-maker would include multiple from MIA - she makes music that white people have never heard before. Jokes aside (am I joking?), I really dug this one. Not as captivating or consistent as Mala, but still a strong project. Prior to doing this project, I think I had only heard a couple of her newer albums, which are nowhere near as interesting as these early ones. Not sure what she's been up to. Favorite tracks: Banana, Pull Up the People, Sunshowers, Fire Fire, Hombre, 10 Dollar. Album art: Another banger. Better than Mala to me, this one is really cool. A great collage of colorful elements and styles, perfectly reflective of the kind of music she's putting out there. Plus you get a picture of her in the center, which is a nice bonus. 4/5

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Sat Aug 26 2023
4

Very very interesting and eclectic blend of styles, and it's rare to find something that is so mixed up like this to be so BOPPIN. This would be a 5 if the vocals didn't get a bit grating at times.

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Thu Aug 31 2023
4

I enjoyed Kala when it was recommended and I equally enjoyed this. Great fun, good beats, innovative noises. Quite different to conventional hip hop.

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Thu Sep 07 2023
4

How did she sample the candy that pops in your mouth on "Banana - Skit". I thought my headphones were breaking. This is awesome. I'm going to steal the top negative review, because I agree with it, but not in the intended way: An album where every song is a seizure. Hell yeah it is, and it SLAPS. I want my brain to be turned into mush with experimentation and crazy sounds.

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Fri Sep 29 2023
4

Its been a while since I've listened to this one. Jeremy introduced me to it and Diolo around the same time. It's better than the sum of its tracks. Drums and lyrics and highlights throughout

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Fri Oct 06 2023
4

Huh. Didn't see that coming. I liked this a lot. It was multidimensional, something I often find lacking in post 90s rap. Also, significantly more melodic.

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Wed Jul 26 2023
5

Ok, so I rolled my eyes when I saw her come up on this list again but I had a lot of fun with this one.

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Thu Aug 10 2023
5

This is bad-ass. I know I missed half of what was going on here, and if I were to dig in to better understand this album, I'm sure I'd get a more profound appreciation for it. But as it is, just listening and grooving to the songs, the production, the style, the vibe, and M.I.A.'s brand of rap, this was pretty amazing. I'm out on a limb here with a 5, but I'm not sure what could have made this better.

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Fri Aug 18 2023
5

I thought this was fantastic and Marxist. 5 stars.

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Mon Oct 09 2023
5

M.I.A. is just so fucking cool she makes me want to be a criminal

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Thu Nov 02 2023
5

Mid 2000s dance music. This thing feels like it was made in someone’s bedroom, they had their electronic instrument and used every single sound available on the thing, but in a good fun way like on Bucky done gun the shitty horns sound like they belong on a flash game. Lots of good throwback sounds and it’s so absurd it would fit in with modern dance music. Not so hidden messages in the lyrics but since pulling apart lyrics isn’t my thing I’d say it’s just a really cool idea.

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Thu Mar 07 2024
5

Love it. Way ahead of its time, especially with the instrumentals. Creative, one of the few albums that I wish didn't end and leaves me craving for more. Love the mixing of electro sounds with hip-hop. Fun

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Mon Aug 14 2023
4

Awesome album to end the week on! I didn't think we would be getting another MIA album, let alone her debut. I can see now how she has evolved over the years, this was the only album of hers I don't think I've listened to. Very cool that she created most of this music and wrote it. I saved Sunshowers, Fire, Fire, and Hombre.

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Mon Aug 14 2023
4

I enjoyed her second album Kala a bit more, but this debut was already pretty good. The songs are maybe a bit weaker, but the tasty beats make up for it.

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Mon Aug 21 2023
4

This was a decent album. M.I.A. does a great job of distilling a wide range of influences. She expertly weaves various strains of British electronic music with hip hop and music from Sri Lanka. Her lyrics are obviously political and have caused quite a lot of controversy. I don’t this this album is as strong as Kala, but I still enjoyed it.

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Fri Sep 01 2023
4

I didn't like this as much as the other one, but I'm still watching her career with great interest. Best track: Sunshowers

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Fri Sep 08 2023
4

Arular is the second album recommended to me from M.I.IA. on this list. The first album I did not like, but I found Arular much more engaging. I know that I did not listen to all of the lyrics while listening to this album, and I missed much of the content. The lyrics were a big downfall of the previous album. The rhythms and energy of this album kept me in the flow of this album. Arular sounded like it would be fun to hear performed live. If I can skip "Freedom Skit" and "Banana Skit" I'd listen to this album again. (I'm generously rounding to 4 stars.)

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Thu Sep 21 2023
4

Awesome. Great, inventive sonics, and not really a weak point in any aspect of M.I.A's producer-rapper-singer-songwriter job. Only thing is i think it was totally upstaged by her second album.

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Thu Oct 12 2023
4

I really like the production on this album, I don’t really know most of what was said but the beats were great. Definitely doesn’t overstay the welcome.

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Sun Oct 15 2023
4

Great groovy electronic album! Pulsing and alive with MIA’s staccato vocals. Also a great primer for creating electronica.

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Thu Oct 19 2023
4

Very surprising album, I liked this one! Similar feel to Skindred without so much punk and more electronic beats.

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Sat Oct 28 2023
4

Another M.I.A. album that's energetic, eclectic, fun and has depth. It grabs you instantly and doesn't let go. Perhaps not quite as accomplished as Kala, but as a debut album this is quite a statement. Unique and pioneering art. Rating: 4/5 Playlist track: Pull Up the People Date listened: 27/10/23

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Fri Nov 10 2023
4

Det här är ju definitivt inte min musiksmak men hon är jävligt frän och det är ett bra album.

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Mon Nov 20 2023
4

I'm always taken by surprise by M.I.A. She works in a genre that I don't have a lot of time for and yet, she has the talent and interest to create something that stands out from just about anything else like this.

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Thu Nov 23 2023
4

Yes. So good, also so fun to read about how the album was made on an archaic beat pad and sampled things like toys from India. Very creative, love all the percussion. Lot of fun

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Sat Nov 25 2023
4

Has a great sound. Standouts: Pull Up the People, Bucky Done Gun, Fire Fire, Sunshowers, M.I.A. 3.5

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Thu Nov 30 2023
4

Did not like the other M.I.A. album on here, but this was OK, especially when it was contrasted with the mid-00s bland indie that was playing in the cafe. I mean, there is something going on here that's a bit more interesting and edgy; Neneh Cherry-ish, and it doesn't outstay its welcome.

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Thu Nov 30 2023
4

Everyone knows 'Paper Planes' which is a great song - but not on this album. Instead M.I.A. gives us more of her trademark style in a combination of East Asian pop music, ragga and British hip hop. It is really unique among all the releases in the hip hop genre out there and some songs are fire. At some point you want to skip tracks though. Again, less could've been more!

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Fri Dec 08 2023
4

I love the energy, but was exhausted by it too and felt like I couldn’t keep up. Think this one’s a big burrito that’s best eaten in small bites.

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Wed Nov 29 2023
4

New music to me, I liked it well enough to listen to it again.

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Mon Dec 11 2023
4

This was very fun! Loved the experimentation and the loud/in-your-face/cool girl vibes. Can't believe M.I.A is the same age as my mum...

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Thu Dec 14 2023
4

Wow wat een verassend album! ik had niet verwacht dat deze artiest of dit album in de lijst zou staan, maar ik ben blij verrast. Dit is echt lekker poppy/hiphoppy! Vooral Bucky Done Gun vind ik echt een banger en komt me heel bekend voor. Galang daarentegen is een heel apart nummer en ben ik niet echt weg van. Het album is sowieso een behoorlijk afwisseling qua genres en geluiden. Wel écht iets anders en iets wat ik nog nooit gehoord had! Dus hoewel ik weinig favo nummers heb van het album vind ik het in zn geheel wel heel prettig wegluisteren; 4 sterren! FAVO: Bucky Done Gun

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Thu Dec 14 2023
4

Nice album! But i did enjoy the spotify suggested playlist after it more than the album itself.

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Thu Dec 14 2023
4

"Arular" is the debut album by British recording artist M.I.A. World music, hip hop, dancehall and dance are the genres assigned. M.I.A. wrote or co-wrote all the songs and used a number of collaborators and producers including Diplo, Justine Frischman, Richard X, Switch, Paul Byrne, Anthony Whitney and Greg "Wizard" Fleming. The album was critically lauded for blending of styles and the integration of political lyrics into dance tunes. The album title was a political code name used by her Father, Arul Pragasun, during his involvement with Sri Lanka Tamil militant groups. The album was nominated for the UK Mercury Prize and hit #190 in the US and #98 in the UK. After a short introductory song, the album lauches into "Pull Up the People." Weird synths and idiosyncratic beats. A revolutionary theme: "Pull up the people. Pull up the poor." "Bucky Done Gun" gives the funk specifically Brazillian baile funk along with musichall samples thrown in. This is very dance-like with the horns. It references the civil war in Sri Lanka. Alright, "10 Dollar" has a more mechanical, grinding beat. Very hypnotic. Child exploitation is the topic here. The second single "Sunflowers" may be the most melodic song on the album. M.I.A. rapping with Nesreen Shah singing the vocal choruses. Tribal beats. The world is divided and the good and evil lines are blurry. The first single "Galang" has a very catchy beat, weird noises with M.I.A. playing with words. Cannabis trafficking. Galang is slang for hang low. I really enjoyed the weird World and other beats. I'm always a sucker for the hypnotic and industrial and there's lots of that here. I have to admit, it took a few listens to really get into but once I did, I really liked it. It does rank up there with her next album "Kala" which is a classic.

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Fri Dec 15 2023
4

M.I.A. is odd-sounding and abrasive by design. It's a sound that's rooted in hip hop and world music but seemed to just drop out the sky, not directly reminiscent of anything that came before it. I find that if I give myself over to the clattering and chattering, I ultimately enjoy it a lot. Lyrical themes seem political and militant without being overtly so. This and her follow-up got so much hype when they came out, and years later they still sound ahead of their time.

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Mon Dec 18 2023
4

Among the most unique and fresh grooves I have heard for a while.

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Wed Dec 20 2023
4

Really liked a lot of it. But some a little redundant, likely cause I was working at my desk not dancing lol.

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Sun Dec 31 2023
4

M.I.A. has a compelling worldwide sound to me. Definitely a product of taking many parts of different musical genres into one soup. Quite a debut. Shame she’s focused on antivax and 5G conspiracies now.

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Sun Dec 31 2023
4

The most impressive and inspiring thing about this album to me is that she made the skeleton of it on an MC-505. Not a particularly easy/intuitive machine to work with. Then, when she couldn't find people to sing on it, she just did it herself. Respect.

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Mon Jan 01 2024
4

everyone i know rated this as one star. i don't understand the hate though; i found this album quite good. it was not perfect by any means as there were many parts which i was like "ehh?" but i found it enjoyable to listen to. most likely wouldn't pick it up again.

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Wed Jan 10 2024
4

Pirteä naisräppilevy. Melko poppista toisinaan, muta taitaa kuitenkin neloseen yltää.

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Thu Jan 11 2024
4

See this is where this list has problems. There's no way MIA is important enough an artist to have 2 entries, not when you consider some of the omissions. Think this one has been left out of the book now, and Kala remains, which I definitely enjoyed. MIA is definitely a complex character, I missed her at the time but she's done some bangers and I've been introduced to her over the last ten years by friends. Shame she seems to have gone slightly 5G batty since COVID as we do need activists in the world and people prepared to speak out. And she has important shit to say on this record, pre-madness. All that said, this is a good listen, don't think it's quite got the outstanding tracks as Kala but it's consistently very good. Probably dragged a bit by the end. After this record finished instead of playing me loads of hip hop, Spotify played me Le Tigre, St Vincent and Deerhoof, and it all kinda fit. Well done.

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Fri Jan 12 2024
4

An innovative experimental debut that blends pop, grime, and worldbeat with hard abrasive electronic beats and effects, full of catchy hooks and sensitive political discourse. Plenty of standout tracks. All of them have something unique about them, although there are a couple that feel comparatively underwhelming. Compared with Kala, the backing tracks here are a bit more repetitive, especially in the middle. You can tell how much she can mature and diversify to make each track an adventure, but this record is still full of fun outstanding ideas.

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Fri Jan 19 2024
4

What were you doing if you weren't listening to this walking around NYC, interning, sweating through a collared shirt. Pairs nicely with Aziz Anasari's bit from "Invite Them Up" about trying to spit game at MIA. A very Millennial 4/5!

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Tue Jan 23 2024
4

Being only familiar with "Paper Planes," and it being a favorite of mine, I looked forward to this album. Although I didn't find it quite as catchy as that song, it has an interesting, unique, percussive sound that I appreciated quite a bit. And of course, when "U.R.A.Q.T." sampled the "Theme from Sanford and Son," that was the best!

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Wed Jan 24 2024
4

This was one of my favorite albums when it first came out. It was fresh and unique. This is M.I.A.’s best album.

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Wed Jan 31 2024
4

Really damn good. She reminds me, at times, of Lady Sov. 4 stars.

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Wed Jan 31 2024
4

I underrated M.I.A. previously, this is fire, fire

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Sat Feb 03 2024
4

While I didn't love the skit interludes, they were musical and better than many album skits I have heard. They're typically so interrupting but not so on this album.

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Mon Feb 05 2024
4

I actually didn't hate this as much as I thought I would. In fact, I really liked it. A lot of the vocals toed the right side of the line between creative/unique/interesting and off-putting. This very much could have been a generic, annoying hip-hop album but the production and care put into the sounds pushed it over the top.

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Mon Feb 12 2024
4

While this isn't as strong or diverse of an album as Kala, it's still pretty strong for a debut. I enjoyed it.

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Fri Feb 16 2024
4

A delightful sonic potpourri. Happy to have heard it prior to my ultimate demise.

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Thu Feb 22 2024
4

If I was a bit younger this would have been on repeat a lot. I had no idea she was one of the first MySpace music stars. Another wiki article that takes an album up a point. 4, but damn near a 5.

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Wed Feb 28 2024
4

Non le si può dir nulla! Bello!

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