The "world" section at your local music retailer is just a way to pile together all the stuff that isn't from America or the U.K. It really isn't fair that bossanova joints can be found right next to some Riverdance jams, but English-born Sri Lankan M.I.A.'s latest, Kala, truly deserves to be called a world album.
She proposes in her new disc that this is the Third World Democracy, and there's no arguing here. M.I.A. did a lot of jumping from continent to continent for this one, and the end result captures the musical flavor of several different cultures and manages to infuse them with booming 808s and frantic rhythms. "Bird Flu," "Boyz" and "Hussel" highlight the music of Africa. No, not like hip-hop R&B, but AFRICA (you'll have to get the album to truly understand). "Jimmy" and "Bamboo Banger" rework Bollywood samples to get your rump on the dance floor with a heaping bowl of chutney, and "Mango Pickle Down River" sounds like an Aboriginal "Paul Revere" with didgeridoos where Mike D expects fish and mangos rather than your cash and jewelry.
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Globalization aside, Kala can pound you over the head with furious dance rhythms so unavoidable you'll either burn your eyeballs out of your sockets with a Bic lighter from the annoying agony, or just get up offa that thang and do your best Night at the Roxbury impression. M.I.A. does provide slower pace for all you headnodders with "Paper Planes" and Timbaland-produced "Come Around," but they seem kinda boring juxtaposed to the 120 BPM-plus bangers on this disc. The final product is a fierce offering with a lot of bold, creative sound that's accessible in whatever hemisphere you find yourself.