The jungle hook

M.I.A.'s great new rap album floats on ragged Bollywood backbeats and
muscly, electro constructions.

M.I.A. – Kala

(Interscope): Sri Lankan rapper Maya Arulpragasam dedicated this rattle-bang record to her mother – her debut, "Arular," was for her father – and has made much in interviews of its "feminine" qualities. Well, maybe. The rhythms are more flexible and sinuous; and the aggression that colored "Arular" is partly subverted by a few rangy, electro jams. But any real distinction is blown by the time "Kala" hits its stride. Straight-out bangers like "XR2" and "Boyz" are muscly constructions with thick low-ends and buzz-saw synths. "Jimmy" floats on a ragged Bollywood backbeat. It's a "little poison for the system," M.I.A. admits on the soaring "Paper Planes," punctuating the sentiment with a few gunshots. Grade: A

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