I first heard about M.I.A when it was announced on the Ninja Tune board that Diplo (of Hollertronix and Big Dada solo career semi-fame) would be remixing her upcoming single, "Sunshowers." So I dutifully checked it out, and was immediately struck by just how wonderfully bizarre her music is in a pop context, at least to American ears. M.I.A is a young British singer by way of Sri Lanka whose music mixes elements of dancehall ragga, bhangra, and Timbaland-style modern hip-hop production with her inimitable vocal style. This track, "Fire Fire," is presumably from her upcoming album (whose title I haven't been able to find), and is quite an interesting listen- with a (joking? half-serious?) violent ragga-esque lyrical hook ("Competition coming up now, load up, aim, fire fire, pop") along with shout-outs to Missy Elliot, Timbaland, the Beastie Boys and the Pixies. The lyrics have me wondering if they're intended as some kind of gender-bending subversion of violent, misogynist reggae stereotypes (similar to some of Tricky's early work with Martina Topley-Bird, specifically "Black Steel" and "Bad Dream"), or if I'm just overthinking what is in the end a damn good pop song. She's signed to XL Records, home of the Strokes, and with a good marketing push this could do really well in the UK. And with a bit of "OMG look female Dizzee Rascal!" hype in the US, we might actually get the album in a timely manner... Her debut single "Galang" is also worth hearing, partly because of the production (by one half of the Fat Truckers), but mostly because it's the most incredibly catchy thing to cross the Atlantic in ages.
M.I.A (official website; has streamable mp3s* and a downloadable a capella mp3 of "Galang")
*...which can be recovered from your temporary internet files folder, if you're a poor Yank like me or possibly just really cheap, in which case shame on you. Also be sure to check out the Electronic Press Kit, which instead of the usual interview or whatever is a bizarre little video of M.I.A dancing like a spaz. Very odd, that.
And here's a completely unrelated mp3 that's been around a while but hasn't diminished in sheer badassery one bit: from the currently indisposed Boom Selection, a mash-up of Dizzee Rascal's "Fix Up, Look Sharp" with LFO's "Freak" by some fellow called Nicotinic. It turns out Dizzee's hiccuping flow meshes almost seamlessly with Mark Bell's brutal techno- who'd've thought it?