Kala (album)

Kala (album)

Infobox Album
Name = Kala
Type = studio
Artist = M.I.A

Released = Start date|2007|8|8 (Japan)
Recorded = February 2006–2007
Genre = Alternative dance, alternative hip hop, dappan koothu, soca, electronic
Length = 47:32
Label = XL (worldwide)
Interscope (U.S. distribution)
Producer = Maya Arulpragasam, Switch, Blaqstarr, Timbaland, Morganics, Diplo
Reviews = * Allmusic rating|4.5|5 [http://wc08.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:gnfexzrgldhe 2007]
* "The A.V. Club" (A) [http://www.avclub.com/content/music/m_i_a 2007]
* Robert Christgau (A+) [http://music.msn.com/music/consumerguide/dec07/ 2007]
* "Entertainment Weekly" (B) [http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20052134,00.html 2007]
* "The Guardian" rating|4|5 [http://arts.guardian.co.uk/filmandmusic/story/0,,2149838,00.html 2007]
* "Blender" rating|4|5 [http://www.blender.com/guide/reviews.aspx?id=4668 2007]
* "NME" (8/10) [http://www.nme.com/reviews/mia/8949 2007]
* Pitchfork Media (8.9/10) [http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/record_review/44983-kala 2007]
* PopMatters (9/10) [http://www.popmatters.com/pm/music/reviews/46850/mia-kala/ 2007]
* "Rolling Stone" rating|4.5|5 [http://www.rollingstone.com/reviews/album/15828484/review/15854428/kala 2007]
* "The Times" rating|3|5 [http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/music/cd_reviews/article2272286.ece 2007]
Last album = "Arular" (2005)
This album = "Kala" (2007)
Next album =
Misc = Singles
Name = Kala
Type = studio
single 1 = Boyz
single 1 date = June 11, 2007
single 2 = Jimmy
single 2 date = October 1, 2007
single 3 = Paper Planes
single 3 date = February 11, 2008

"Kala" is the second studio album by British musical artist M.I.A., released on August 20, 2007 on XL Records (see 2007 in music). The album was mainly written and produced by M.I.A. and collaborator Switch. Upon release, "Kala" was hailed by critics and was ranked as one of the best albums of the year by several publications.

Album history


M.I.A. began recording for her second album in February 2006 immediately following the end of her tour supporting her first album "Arular". The album features collaborations with Afrikan Boy, The Wilcannia Mob, and Timbaland and production by M.I.A., Switch, Blaqstarr, Morganics, Diplo, and Timbaland. [cite web | title= "M.I.A.: Kala"| url= http://wc08.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:gnfexzrgldhe | work = AllMusicGuide | date=2007 | accessdate=2007-08-31] M.I.A. has described the album as "shapes, colours, Africa, street, power, bitch, nu world, and brave." [cite web | title= "10 essential albums for Spring"| url= http://observer.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,2030991,00.html | date=2007-03-11 | accessdate=2007-04-07]

M.I.A. spoke in 2005 of her intention to work with producer Timbaland on a few tracks for her second album, including during her appearance on MuchMusic's "Much on Demand" music show in September 2005.cite web | title= "MuchMusic Much on Demand: M.I.A. Transcript Sep 2005"| url=http://www.muchmusic.com/music/artists/transcripts.asp?artist=1213 | work = Much on Demand | accessdate=2007-08-24] M.I.A. had also held recording sessions with Three 6 Mafia.cite web | title=M.I.A. in Ardent | work=mixonline.com | url=http://mixonline.com/news/headline/ardent-mia-album-091206/ | date=2007-05-09 | accessdate=2007-05-09] She has been quoted as saying " [There was] a track I was working on with Three Six Mafia [that] didn't make it…and one with Danjahandz, and Samir Debonair. Loads of things didn't happen because I was having visa issues, but they'll probably work out in the future." Despite having written material and formed demos for her second album through late 2005, having no access to her work or her equipment in her house meant starting the album from scratch in early 2006.cite web | title= "M.I.A. - Fact Magazine"| url=http://www.factmagazine.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=272&Itemid=27 | work = FACTmagazine | accessdate=2007-06-07]

She also intended to work with A. R. Rahman on tracks for the album, but due to time constraints on Rahman, she recorded the song "Birdflu" instead using his studio in Chennai, India. She also recorded songs elsewhere in Chennai as well as in Trinidad, Liberia, Jamaica, Australia, Japan, the UK and the US.

Composition and recording

Arulpragasam's problems with immigration and obtaining a visa in the early stages of recording and parallels she saw with her mother's earlier struggles would form the basis for the content on the album. Arulpragasam adopted a choppier, more fragmented lyrical style on "Kala." The "louder, heavier music" on the album was attributed to the layering of several percussive instruments, voices and sounds she employed on the record during sessions across the world - terming it "experimental, weighty… so outsider." She likened the process to "making a big old marble cake with lots of different countries and influences. Then you slice it up and call each slice a song."cite web | title= "Life in Exile"| url= http://www.thefader.com/blog/articles/2007/08/07/video-interview-mia-jimmy | work = Fader | date=2007-07-08 | accessdate=2007-12-29] She described "Kala" as "realistically more worldly" and debut album "Arular" more "conceptually worldly."cite web | title= "Backstage @ Parades de Coura Festival| url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqdqBomA-Sk|work = ITW M.I.A. Sic Radical| accessdate=2008-03-06] "Kala" also saw Arul using more samples than on "Arular," interweaving acknowledged snippets of songs she encountered across the world into her compositions.Quote box
quote ="I used to see songwriting like editing a film or something. You can edit music like you can edit a film. Or if I was painting or making a picture or something, that night I could sit down and write a song. I think it really helps to break things up. I was just writing beats from one machine, the 505. I was just really excited about discovering something that involved one voice, one tool, one room, one human being. To me, it wasn’t like making a film, where you need thirty people and money and funding and someone to print it up for you and show it somewhere."
source =Mathangi Arulpragasam, "Westword.com interview" (2008) [cite web |author=Roberts, Michael| title= Q&A with M.I.A.| url= http://blogs.westword.com/backbeat/2008/05/qa_with_mia.php| work = Westword.com | date=2008-05-14 | accessdate=2008-10-06]
width =40%
align =left
Songs played throughout M.I.A.'s 2007 tour are included on the album. In an interview with a "Fact" magazine issue for which she also exclusively designed the cover, Arulpragasam described how songs such as "Boyz," were recorded using urumee drummers from gaana music in Tamil Nadu, revisiting the "old Tamil folk music that [she] knew from having lived in Sri Lanka" and were worked on further in Trinidad in a soca/dance environment. "For "Birdflu" and "Boyz" and some of the drums on "Hussel", I had these drummers from this crazy traditional village, they play at temples and stuff…we had them come in… Initially, I was just going for the sound…I asked them to play a 4/4 beat… it took ages because they're so used to free-styling and letting one beat drop into another beat into another beat." The song "Hussel" began as a photo in Arul's head, that of "200 people being smuggled in fishing boats in Carila, coming over as refugees." Arul described in an interview with "The Fader," "If they banged that beat on the side of a boat, what would it sound like? That's why it's all echo-y and submarine-y. We tried to get that out in music." "World Town" was recorded with a "weird instrument that comes from temple music called the nadaswaram or "p.p." for short." She described the writing process as "really personal." Initially played to children in Liberia, Arul expressed a desire to record a video for the song there.

Children can be heard singing on songs such as "Birdflu," "Mango Pickle Down River" and "Paper Planes." Her "flat, unaffected vocals and delivery of lyrics" on some songs drew comparisons to British post-punk bands such as Delta 5 and The Slits. She says it "was just what was happening to me naturally…I wanted it to be difficult and raw and not get into it so much." M.I.A. spoke of working with guest vocalist Afrikan Boy as he seemed "comfortable expressing himself as a real immigrant" and because "he's from a different place than just a grime MC" and sought to include The Wilcannia Mob's song "Mango Pickle Down River" on the album as opposed to a future mix-tape saying "I just love it because you never, ever hear the aboriginal voice on a record." She also included the track "Come Around," a song she recorded with Timbaland for his album "Shock Value." In an interview with "Exclaim," she described opening track "Bamboo Banga" as having a "bamboo-stick beat, house-y feel."cite web | author= Lindsay, Cam| title= M.I.A.| work= Exclaim| url= http://www.exclaim.ca/articles/multiarticlesub.aspx?csid1=114&csid2=946&fid1=27365| date= September 2007 | |accessmonthday=March 6 | accessyear=2008] The song "Jimmy" was included as a tribute to her mother, her version of an old Bollywood film track she used to dance to at parties as a child.cite web | title= "Staus Ain't Hood interviews M.I.A."| url= http://www.villagevoice.com/blogs/statusainthood/archives/2007/07/status_aint_hoo_28.php | work = The Village Voice | accessdate=2008-03-06] Arulpragasam has said she was interested in how working with Baltimore club musician Blaqstarr on one song, "The Turn," turned out the album's only ballad. "20 Dollar" was written on life in an African country during and after a civil war, the relative ease of buying AK-47s there, and M.I.A. contemplating on her journey and goals in music. "XR2" recalls part of the artist's life growing up with rave music in early 1990s London, while the song "Paper Planes" jokingly plays on M.I.A.'s problems with visas and certain perceptions of immigrants. [cite web | title= M.I.A. Strike, Match, Light, Fire| work=MTV Overdrive|url= http://www.mtv.com/overdrive/?id=1574938&vid=190780 | date=2007-12-03 | accessdate=2008-03-06]

Album title and artwork

"Kala" is named after M.I.A.'s mother (her previous album, "Arular", was named after her father). She explains "I thought it was fair." M.I.A. stated that "Arular"…was a real masculine album." Regarding "Kala", she says, "This one is about my mum and her struggle—how do you work, feed your children, nurture them and give them the power of information?"Hawkins, Si. [http://www.urb.com/features/183/MIAWorldParty.php?PageId=2 "M.I.A.: World Party"] . "Urb". May 17, 2007. Retrieved May 24, 2007.] [cite web | title= "What's Up With M.I.A."| url= http://www.philadelphiaweekly.com/view.php?id=12933 | work = Philadelphiaweekly.com | date=2006-09-06 | accessdate=2007-05-27]

As with her previous album, Arulpragasam created the artwork for "Kala", and was also involved in photography for the album. Photos from Arul's travels during the album's making, taken in Liberia and Jamaica were included in a booklet as part of the album sleeve. The cover artwork for "Kala" featured bright, brash neon colours, with retro, pixelated patterns. These were also seen in her music videos, such as for single "Boyz." It further served as the backdrop for her official website and Myspace accounts, when they were relaunched/redesigned in February 2007. Additional graphics for the album were provided by Carri Mundane (a.k.a Cassette Playa) and Steve Loveridge. In an early blog entry on her relaunched official website, M.I.A. spoke of how she was also inspired by bootleg Nigerian DVDs during the album's early making. [cite web | title= "M.I.A. Blog" (Official Site)| url= http://www.miauk.com/mia-blog/ | work = MIAUK.com | date=2007| accessdate=2007-12-30]

Release and reception

"Kala" was initially announced to be released on June 26, 2007, but was eventually released on August 8, 2007 in Japan. Before the release, M.I.A. posted all songs from the album onto her Myspace page. "Kala" debuted at number 22 on the World Albums Chart upon release. The album peaked at number three on the U.S. iTunes Music Store upon release. It debuted at number 18 on the U.S. "Billboard" 200 chart, selling about 29,000 copies in its first week. [Katie Hasty, [http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003632746 "'High School Musical 2' Hangs On Atop Billboard 200"] , Billboard.com, August 29, 2007.] The album generally received a very positive reception from critics, scoring 87 on MetaCritic.cite web |url=http://www.metacritic.com/music/artists/mia/kala |title="Kala" at MetaCritic |accessdate=2007-09-05 |publisher=MetaCritic |format= |work= ] "Kala" has so far sold 302,000 copies in the US. [ [http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/ask_bb/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003849640 Ask Billboard-UK IMPORTS09/12/2008] ] "Rolling Stone" said that "Kala" "strikes deep. There's a resolute sarcasm, a weariness and defiant determination, a sense of pleasure carved out of work - articulated by the lyrics, embodied by the music."cite web | url= http://www.rollingstone.com/reviews/album/15828484/review/15854428/kala | title = Kala : M.I.A. : Review : Rolling Stone | accessdate= 2007-12-23 | work= Rolling Stone ] "The Hartford Courant" called "Kala" "pop music without the vapidity, and political music without the condescension." [ cite web | url= http://www.courant.com/entertainment/music/reviews/albums/hc-topcd0823.artaug23,0,3313809.story | title = Kala by M.I.A. | accessdate= 2007-12-23 | work= The Hartford Courant ] "Spin" said "M.I.A.'s border-crossing dance pop is a revolutionary manifesto set to the victory-party vibe of the future." [M.I.A. Kala. Sep 2007. "Spin." p.127] Rapreviews.com praised "Kala" as an effort "drenched in a humid heat, leaving a trail of sweat-soaked speakers blown through bass…" Whilst commenting that "it is more expansive and daring - resulting in more highs and lows than "Arular," it commended "Kala" as a "yet strangely alluring and captivating album, revealing more of itself upon each additional listen." [ cite web | url= http://www.rapreviews.com/archive/2007_08_miakala.html | title = M.I.A. :: Kala :: XL Recordings | accessdate= 2007-12-23 | publisher= Rapreviews.com ] "Under the Radar," in a positive review, noted that "Kala" "not only doesn't disappoint, it renews faith in M.I.A. and confirms her commitment to the individualistic sound she has created." [M.I.A.: Kala. "Under the Radar." Summer 2007. Page 74] By the end of 2007, it was ranked by Metacritic as the 9th best reviewed album of the year. [ [http://www.metacritic.com/music/bests/2007.shtml Metacritic: Best Albums of 2007] . MetaCritic. December 21, 2007] It also achieved a high place on most publications' end of year "best of 2007" lists, including placings at 8 ("Stylus Magazine"), 7 ("NME"), 6 "(Paste", "The Onion AV Club", "Entertainment Weekly"), 5 ("Spin"), 4 ("The Guardian" and "Drowned in Sound"), 3 (Pitchfork Media). "Kala" placed number 3 on "The Village Voice's" 35th annual "Pazz & Jop" poll for the Best Album of 2007.cite web | author= The Village Voice | title= The 35th Annual Village Voice pazz&jop critics' poll | work=The Village Voice | url= http://www.villagevoice.com/pazzandjop07/winners.php?type=album | date=January 24, 2008 | |accessmonthday=January 24 | accessyear=2008] "Blender magazine" awarded "Kala" their number 1 album of 2007, [ cite web | url= http://www.metacritic.com/music/bests/2007.shtml | title = Best Albums of 2007 - Music Critics' Year-End Top Ten Lists | accessdate= 2007-12-19 | publisher= Metacritic ] and "Kala" ranked number one on "Rolling Stone"'s list of the Top 50 Albums of 2007. [cite web | url= http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/17601851/the_top_50_albums_of_2007 | title = The Top 50 Albums of 2007 | accessdate= 2007-12-23 | work= Rolling Stone]

Following the unexpected commercial success of "Paper Planes", Interscope Records is rereleasing "Kala" on November 4, 2008 in the U.S.. cite web | url=http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/23399805/mias_unexpected_smash | title=M.I.A.'s unexpected smash | author=Brian Hiatt | work=Rolling Stone | publisher=Wenner Media | date=2008-10-16 | accessdate=2008-10-10 ] The reissue will feature six bonus tracks.

Track listing

"Big Branch" appears as track thirteen on the U.S. and UK iTunes versions as a bonus track, while the Cavemen Remix of "Birdflu" comes as a bonus download with purchase of the Best Buy edition in the United States. The track listing was confirmed on M.I.A.'s official website in May 2007.cite web | title= "M.I.A. 2007"| url= http://www.miauk.com/info | work = MIAUK | accessdate=2007-06-11]


Although not officially considered a single, the song "Birdflu" was made available to download from iTunes on November 23, 2006, and its video was posted on the internet in early February 2007. The first official single to be lifted from the album, "Boyz," premiered on Zane Lowe's Radio 1 show on April 24, 2007. The song was released as a 12", enhanced EP, a radio edit and in USB key format on June 11, 2007. Unofficial remixes of the song including by The Twelves, Kimono Kops and Rock Steady Drew circulated around the internet soon after the song's release. The second single released was "Jimmy", a disco-influenced song. The release included remixes by DJ Eli and a radio mix by Dan Carey. Australian public radio station Triple J began playing "Paper Planes" in late 2007; where it received much radio air play before becoming an official single. The song reached number 17 on the Triple J Hot 100. The EP "Paper Planes - Homeland Security Remixes" featuring the song "Paper Planes" and remixes was released on February 11, 2008, although track listings varied slightly depending on the format.


On May 2, 2007, a new track, "Hit That", not intended for an appearance on the album, was made available for download on producer Bangladesh's MySpace. Parts of "Hit That" appear on the Japanese bonus track "What I Got" and a revision of the bridge is heard in "Paper Planes". Arulpragasam uploaded the song "XR2 Turbo", a remixed version of "XR2", onto her MySpace in early October 2006 from Japan. [cite web | title= "M.I.A. Blog" (Official Site)| url= http://www.miauk.com/mia-blog/ | work = MIAUK.com | date=2007-06-15| accessdate=2007-07-01]

ong use in popular media

"Come Around" featured in the fourth season finale of "Entourage" and also appears as a UK and Japan bonus track on the album "Shock Value" (2007). "Boyz" was featured in an episode from season two of "Heroes" and in an episode from season 6 of "," as well as in the video game "NBA 08". "Boyz" was also played during the 2008 MTV Movie Awards Best Movie category, and by DJ AM and Travis Barker during the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards. The song "Bird Flu" features in the soundtrack of the anime film "Vexille" (2007). [ [http://www.7digital.com/artists/various-artists/vexille-soundtrack-(2)/ Various Artists - Vexille Soundtrack] . 7 Digital. Retrieved December 23, 2007. ] "Boyz" and "Bird Flu" can be heard in the video game "FIFA Street 3." The song "Paper Planes" is featured in the trailer for the film "Pineapple Express". "Paper Planes" was also featured on Sky TV during a commercial for "CSI Miami".


* Vocals – M.I.A.
* Producers:
** M.I.A. (tracks 1 to 6, 8, 9)
** Switch (tracks 1, 3 to 5, 7, 8)
** Diplo (tracks 5, 10, 11)
** Timbaland (track 12)
** Morganics (track 6)
** Blaqstarr (track 9)
* Assistant engineers - Larry "Live" Lyons (track 12), Marty Green (track 12)
* Mixing: Mark "Spike" Stent, Switch
* Digital editing: Ron Taylor (track 12)
* Vocal producer: M.I.A. (track 6), Diplo (track 6), Jim Beanz (track 12)
* Graphic design: Carri Mundane, Steve Loveridge
* Artwork: M.I.A.
* Photography: M.I.A., Janette Beckman, Liz Johnson Artur, Michael Kamber
* Cut: DJ Ability (track 6)
* Featuring vocals: Afrikan Boy, The Wilcannia Mob, Timbaland



External links

* [http://www.miauk.com/ M.I.A. Official Website]

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