M.I.A Music For Terrorists to Terrorize By?
I once knew a young Tamil man. I worked with him in a college job and the stories he told about life in Sri Lanka were harrowing due to the the civil war which raged for over twenty years. The government would launch strikes against his people whilst he and his friends were playing soccer on the fields. If you thought drunk pushy side line parents were bad, it is nothing on having an aerial strike take out half your team because your parents are “terrorists.” If you don't know what the heck I'm going on about right now, it's because the Tamil were official defeated in May of 2009 and because it doesn't have the buzzwords 'Iraq', 'Afghanistan', or 'OMFG OIL' in it and therefore hasn't been considered newsworthy for quite some time.
Here's a quick contextual break down from Wikipedia:
“The Sri Lankan Civil War was a conflict fought on the island of Sri Lanka. Beginning on July 23, 1983, there was an on-and-off insurgency against the government by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (the LTTE, also known as the Tamil Tigers), a separatist militant organization which fought to create an independent Tamil state named Tamil Eelam in the north and the east of the island. After a 30-month-long military campaign, the Sri Lankan military defeated the Tamil Tigers in May 2009.
For over 25 years, the insurgency caused significant hardships for the population, environment and the economy of the country, with over 80,000 people officially listed as killed during its course. The tactics employed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam resulted in them being branded as a terrorist organization in 32 countries, including the United States, India, Australia, Canada and the member nations of the European Union."
M.I.A is a British / Sri Lankan artist who makes music so damn awesome that I would go gay for her. Seriously. Her most popular song is 'Paper Planes,' which is about as representative of her whole body of work as the time Hitler went vegetarian was representative of his love for the world at large. Her music is largely rhythmic and arrhythmic, with a sound that I can only describe as being urban tribal.
What's the connection? At one time, M.I.A's father is reported to have been a leader in the Tamil Tigers, the freedom fighting / terrorist organization that was criminalized in 23 countries. At times, M.I.A has been accused of supporting her father's organization with her music. 'Galang' in particular contains imagery of tigers, which have been connected with the Tamil Tigers.
Is this terrorist music? Well, unlike 99% of popular music today, M.I.A's music is political. It has meaning. It is always catchy, always moving and quite often subversive. In other words, it is exactly what music should be.
From 'Bucky Done Gun'
“Can I get control
Do you like me vulnerable
I'm armed and I'm equal
More fun for the people
Physical, Brute force
Steel, lion you're the boss”
From 'Bird Flu'
BIG on the underground
what’s the point of knocking me down?
I’m already good on the ground
Most of us stay strong
shit don’t really bound us
then I go on my own
making bombs with rubber bands
If you have a taste for original music I'd recommend listening to Bird Flu, Bucky Done Gun, Galang and Bamboo Banga. It's not all politics and deep messages, there's enough semi nonsensical lyrics in these to create verbal rhythms that will keep you humming and dancing for weeks to come.