Album cover Kala - M.I.A.
KalaM.I.A.8/10

M.I.A. - Kala

10 Feb 2008 row1

The second LP from M.I.A. comes with acclaim from critics and frequents top album of '07 lists. Read on or checkout the score to see this reviews opinion.

M.I.A.'s first album Arular was well received here thanks to its grimy beats and sassy rhymes. The style of Kala is a bit more varied. In this case the variety slightly hurts rather than helps; the album transitions from grime to dance and almost to pop, creating an uneven/disjoint flow.

The opening tracking "Bamboo Banga" starts off slow, taking 2 minutes to fully come out with the big beats. The cool lyrical delivery and slick production are instantly reminiscent of Arular's high points.

The next two songs "Bird Flu" and "Boyz" do a good job of holding the fort but don't really bring anything exciting to the table. A cover 'Jimmy' is up next, with the original Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Aaja coming from a Bollywood movie 'Disco Dancer'. While the song is borderline 'dance', it's catchy enough to avoid being skipped.

Halfway through the album "Mango Pickle Down River" provides a very low point. The Wilcannia Mob are 5 adolescent boys from Australia who sound exactly how you would expect rapping adolescents to sound. They remind me a lot of York Prep Crew from Ice-T's Rap School. Just like York Prep Crew shouldn't have opened for Public Enemy (sure it's cute and all, but it's annoying and doesn't any make sense), The Wilcannia Mob shouldn't have been on a full length track, dare I say it should have been a skit instead. Luckily the next track "20 Dollar" which features the chorus from The Pixies' "Where is my mind?" more than makes up for the previous skip track.

The next track which really doesn't fit in on the album is very electronic dance heavy "XR2". It is the exact type of song you expect boy racers to playing with their ridiculous subs. I don't know if this track is "for serious?" or is a piss take on boy racers. Considering the type of car a 1992 XR2 is it must be the later, in which case why not make it a skit?

The best track on the album "Paper Planes" follows "XR2". A sample of The Clash's "Straight to Hell" is put to good use as well as the gun shots and cash registers in the hook.

I am not the biggest fan of Timbaland, but I do admit that he does produce and rap on a lot of catchy tunes. Unfortunately the final track "Come Around" is a case of "meh" and doesn't do anything to reach the highs of "Paper Planes".

Kala is a strong album and doesn't suffer from "the difficult second album" syndrome. I would recommend that anyone checks it out just to hear "Paper Planes". It does has some quite low lows, in the Arular review I said to get rid of the skits, perhaps I was wrong; there are at least two songs on the album which should of been dropped or included as skits. There are 3 bonus tracks which aren't included in the version I received and after listening to them they should of been included and replaced "Mango Pickle Down River" and "XR2".

Sardless Tracks

  • Bamboo Banga
  • 20 Dollar
  • Paper Planes

Track Listing

  1. Bamboo Banga
  2. Bird Flu
  3. Boyz
  4. Jimmy
  5. Hussel feat. Afrikan Boy
  6. Mango Pickle Down River <br/> feat. The Wilcannia Mob
  7. 20 Dollar
  8. World Town
  9. The Turn
  10. XR2
  11. Paper Planes
  12. Come Around feat. Timbaland