Critically acclaimed Sri Lankan born British rapper Maya Arulpragasam ? better known as M.I.A. is set to release a `controversial` music album in the US tomorrow focusing on her mother and issues facing Third World countries including the struggle of displaced people in Sri Lanka, the US media reported.
The album titled `Kala` is named after her mother, a seamstress who raised her three children alone, and is ostensibly about the survival of displaced people.
`We do it cheap, hide our money in a heap/Send it home and make `em study,` she whispers in the track `Hussel,` beginning with the chants of Indian boatmen and seemingly talks of Tamils overseas sending money to their relatives in war-affected Sri Lanka.
Her equally controversial debut album, `Arular` (2005) released in the UK, was named after her father, who has been associated with the LTTE and drew wide publicity both in the UK and in Sri Lanka for its lyrics and album cover.
On that album she played freely with the imagery of militancy and propaganda. The cover and interior artwork, which M.I.A. designed herself, was covered with spray-painted guns, tigers, tanks and soldiers.
M.I.A. left Sri Lanka at the age of nine as a refugee and discovered hip-hop in a London housing project. She was blocked from returning to the United States last year because of delays in renewing her working visa which some attributed to her father`s links with the LTTE, banned as a terrorist organization in the US.
She however wound up travelling to India, Jamaica, Trinidad and Australia, recording along the way with portable gear. The resulting songs for the new album feel airborne and deliberately rootless.
`I`m just trying to build some sort of bridge,` she said to the New York Times. `I`m trying to create a third place, somewhere in-between the developed world and the developing world.`
The enormous drums of `Boyz,` for example, were recorded in India, but the rest of the song ? a Bollywood-tinged club banger about the rowdy, war-starving sex ? was made in Trinidad. `World Town` rewrites a Baltimore hip-hop anthem for a violent Third World ghetto the dizzyingly abstract percussion loop of `BirdFlu` is spiked with Indian dhol drums and chicken squawks.
The first single from KALA, `Boyz` was just listed at #1 Rolling Stone`s Hot List, and #1 Song of the Month in Blender magazine.
M.I.A. is currently on a world tour performing in France, Belgium, the US and Japan.