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M.I.A. Kala

What’s great about M.I.A. is the fact that she refuses to conform to mainstream connotations of female performers while remaining palatable enough to appeal to a large, international audience. Her sophomore effort, Kala, is the epitome of that rebellion. “Paper Planes,” perhaps the strongest track on the record, is the perfect example: A summery, top-40 hip-hop hit is completely overwhelmed by 16 gunshot samples in each chorus. Simply, this is M.I.A. staying true to her creative impulses. The straightforward party tracks are just as amazing: “Boyz” mixes good times and political commentary (“How many tequila in the place.../How many boys to start a war?”). With Kala, M.I.A. may have created the most ingenious LP of the year.

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