Some things just hit me in the face at full speed. I encounter them at face value, and no matter how foreign they are to me, I assimilate them instantly. It was like that with Shantaram. With the first word of the first sentence, I knew. when I finished the first page, I closed my eyes, took a breath and paid for it, left the store and went home.
It was the same thing with M.I.A. I’ve never been much of a hip-hop or dancehall fan, but I was scouring the World Cafe, my lingering nostalgia for the times when I could capture XPN live in Philly, and found this amazing, sexy, straight-to-the-gut interview with M.I.A. As soon as it ended, I bought Kala on iTunes and have been listening to it for a good three weeks straight.
I’m trying to write less in my posts, I feel like it makes them harder to get through, so I want to be articulate and succint about why her music affected me so instantly. She is a third-culture kid, she’s a child of the non-Western world, growing up in London, assimilated like a chameleon, she crashed into digital art, film, and finally found hip-hop, and expressed everything through it. Her childhood, globalization, human rights, child soldiers, abuse, consumerism. I understand everything she’s saying, it’s one of those musics that are completely in my head. I’ve tried to share it with a number of people who don’t get where it’s coming from, but for me, she’s prophesizing, she’s a kindred spirit, she’s my sister, my girlfriend, she’s the world. I hear the beats of Africa, the sex, the rain, I hear bollywood, I hear the beat of that real world.
Here’s a video of Paper Planes, one of my favorite tracks on Kala.