In the last few hours of 2010, I was nowhere near my computer. I was visiting with family, primping for a night out, meeting up with my honey and dancing the cares of the year away. I hope you were all doing some combination of any or all of the above, too. But we should all be grateful that at least a few people were working right up until the last day of the year, if only because their labors have brought us the subject of this week’s post.
I’m talking, of course, about ViCKi LEEKX. If you haven’t had the chance to step out and download M.I.A.’s latest mix tape release, you’ll want to pop on over to the website and get yourself a copy, stat. Access is free and requires only an e-mail address, which they’ll use to send the link for download. I picked up my copy of the mix tape yesterday, and haven’t received any spam yet – but I did use my “mailing list only” e-mail address for retrieving the link, just in case. The tape, which was released on New Year’s Eve, runs about 36 minutes and consists of 19 separate tracks, although it shows up as just one continuous track in my iTunes folder (which is fine, because it really should be treated as such). The mix is self-produced and also features production by Diplo, Blaqstarr, and Rusko, among others. It’s a pretty badass effort and, while I’m not overly familiar with the work of the other artists independently of their relationship with M.I.A., it’s clear that everyone’s had the chance to put their own stamp on the collaboration.
A number of the tracks in this mix stand on their own merits as truly club-ready – you can practically see people bumping along to “Go At It” and “Overdrive”, “Gen -N-E-Y” is a serious driving tune, and “Bad Girls” is practically begging to sweep like wildfire through the nation’s bachelorette parties. But the mix as a whole is well worth the hour and change it takes to listen straight through twice. The running juxtaposition of tribal beats against synthetic blips straight out of old video games is not only jarring and interesting, it’s an effective (if unsubtle) nod to the overarching themes of the whole project.
True to form, M.I.A. uses this mix to be provocative, and the themes and messages herein certainly raise eyebrows. Her lyrics address a dizzying collection of relevant pop-culture references, from Facebook to Nicki Minaj to (obviously) WikiLeaks. She dances across issues like privacy, feminine roles, and the internet generation, without ever really committing to saying something significant about those issues. But this has always been one of the intriguing things about M.I.A.’s work: she often seems content to be the one saying something in a room full of people who don’t seem to be saying anything. It often strikes me that perhaps in the same vein, it’s enough that we, as a collective audience, take M.I.A. seriously enough seek out anything thematically relevant beyond the sex/love/PMS pigeonhole we shove so many female artists into. But that’s another discussion altogether – and, in fact, it’s one I’d like to have down the line.
As far as this mix goes, I’m content to just give it a whirl (preferably on repeat), and not think terribly hard about what it all means. It’s catchy and fun, and just the sort of all-purpose jam music that we should all have on hand, should we spontaneously need to rock out. Make sure you go out and grab it while it’s free.Tweet this!