Review ·

This is the 21st century and, whether the Recording Industry Association of America agrees or not, these are exciting, lucrative times for emerging artists. Instead of twenty people playing M.I.A.’s “Galang” at dance clubs, a thousand people have downloaded it and eagerly anticipate more from the new female emcee starlet. And now Piracy Funds Terrorism (which stupid people actually think) gives the Internet another reason to congratulate itself: One more great piece of music that would otherwise go unheard can be shared and enjoyed by the masses, and the world can come together instead of tearing itself apart.

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This promo-only release, mixed by Diplo from Hollertronix, isn’t the much-hyped debut, Arular, that’s supposed to drop sometime this year. It’s just here to satiate the masses for a few months. Giving us a sneak peek via the jittery mash-ups Diplo whips together, M.I.A. has put a whole new idea into the pop hopefuls: Is this 2005 we’re hearing?

The click-clack abrasiveness we’re met with on Diplo’s “Galangaton” remix turns so quickly into stomping beat-heavy pop music that it’s hard to even notice where Ragga stops and Snoop begins. The back-and-forth Diplo works is so startling that most of M.I.A.’s music takes on a confidence that it formerly lacked; it’s as if his fuck-shit-up glitch-hop mentality only made the pop sensibility in M.I.A.’s work stronger. This gives mash-ups a new purpose in the post-2 Many DJs soundscape. Here’s Dead Prez and there’s an accordion. “Uraqt” (spell it) is given a deep horn groove that makes it crackle and pop, leading into the inevitable “Big Pimpin’ ” appearance, which works so well that the lack of creativity doesn’t drag the track down.

M.I.A. is often compared to Dizzee, but nothing like the starkness of “Sittin’ Here” is to be found on Piracy Funds Terrorism, and not even anything on Showtime can reach out to the mainstream like this dancehall-touched playful pop that sits easily next to Clipse, Missy and, shit, even the Bengals. You just know that not all of this is Diplo; by highlighting this pop sensibility, he’s doing something more special here than mixing.

That leaves M.I.A. with more hope for success and less chance of it, you may think, because what dooms you more than shooting your metaphorical load too soon? I say no, though; this shit is just too motion sensitive, too immediate, to whither on the vine. Arular will be picked and Arular will flourish. But for now, who cares? I’ve got a fucking awesome mix to share with the rest of the world.

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- 2004

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