A few years ago I picked up Kala, an album releasd by the English-Sri Lankan rapper, songwriter, and producer Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasami, better known as M.I.A, It was going for next to nothing in a second-hand section and I did so on the basis that I had really liked a couple of the singles, and in particular Paper Planes which makes great use of a Clash sample.
The thing is, I’ve always had a problem making time to listen to albums that I don’t buy at the time of their release, especially since getting immersed in this blog, as time is restricted and I’m usually listening to new stuff or re-acquainting myself with material that I’m intending to write about. As such, Kala was played in full on no more than two occasions and then put on the shelf – not because I didn’t like it but I just didn’t have the capacity to take everything on board.
I did a quick update on my I-phone recently to accommodate the music delivered by Santa, and in freeing up more space than I needed, I found myself racking some through old albums for inclusion and Kala turned out to be one of them. So, on a bus journey up to the football, I gave it a listen through a set of headphones for the first time. It really is an extraordinary album, incorporating the gritty urban sounds of the UK and the US with more traditional music from Africa, Asia and Australia, with a set of street-wise and highly political raps in which very few who are in power or have the ability to make a difference are spared.
It was only the fact that I was giving the album my undivided attention did I fully pick up that one of the songs, which is a critique of just how easy and cheap it is for young folk to but AK-47s in Liberia (one of the countries in which the album was recorded), contained a sample from one of my favourite Pixies songs:-
mp3 : M.I.A. – $20
It’s a really imaginative and very unexpected use of the chorus of Where Is My Mind? I was quite surprised that Maya, who only moved to London in the mid-80s as an 11-year old girl, was so au fait with the work of Boston’s finest given that she has talked extensively about the sorts of music that she had listened to in her youth and said that it mostly centred around dance and rap. But then again, she was someone who in her early adult life was best friends with Justine Frischmann, and for a while they were flatmates which, if nothing else, would certainly have exposed Maya to all sorts of indie rock’n’roll. Whatever the ways and means, it’s a brilliant use of the work of Pixies and a highlight of an outstanding album.
Oh, and any excuse to play the original:-
mp3 : Pixies – Where Is My Mind?
One thing to note. Black Francis’s pronunciation of the holiday destination has the emphasis on the rib in the middle of Caribbean (Ca/rib/eh/an) whereas us Brits always say it differently (Carri/bee/ann), as in this:-
mp3 : Billy Ocean – Caribbean Queen
We’re right. You yanks are wrong……