100 Best Albums of the 2000s

9

M.I.A., 'Kala'

The London-via-Sri Lanka art-punk funkateer came on like she knew she was kind of a big deal, and it didn't take her long to convince everyone in earshot. On her second album, she restyled hip-hop as one big international block party, mixing up a whole sound clash of beatbox riddims, playground rhymes, left-field samples and gunshots. It's a dance-off in a combat zone. Full of political fury and musical imagination, Maya Arulpragasam proved she could steal beats from anywhere — the Pixies, the Modern Lovers, Sri Lankan temples, Bollywood disco soundtracks — and turn it all into a party chant. From "20 Dollar" to "Bamboo Banga," she rolls from one Third World battleground to another: "Price of living in a shantytown just seems very high/But we still like T.I./But we still look fly." Kala lives up to the world-hopping promise of the Clash, so it makes cosmic sense that she sampled them in "Paper Planes" — which bizarrely blew up into a Top 10 pop smash in the U.S. Joe Strummer would have been proud.

Related:
Rolling Stone's Original 2007 Review

Photos: M.I.A.'s Wildest Looks

Video: Rye Rye on Touring With M.I.A. While in High School

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