M.I.A. - Third World Democracy

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"If you catch me at the border, I got visas in my name."

I get confused when people talk about "World Music."  I don't know what that is.  All music comes from some place.  Sometimes music can have influences from more than one place.  Sometimes a musician has traveled a lot and picked up musical threads from many cultures. 

But "World Music" reminds me of nothing so much as this.

It could be, however, that the World Music of the 1990s was just a pale prelude to the music of a global culture that is emerging.  Sri Lankan refugee Maya Arulpragasam, better known as M.I.A., embodies this music as well as anyone.  
Her father was active in the Tamil nationalist movement, which led M.I.A.'s family to seek refuge in England and India at different times.  More recently, she has landed in my old neighborhood in Brooklyn.

M.I.A. has had a lot of commercial success after her single Paper Planes took off in recent months.  Less well known, but more germane to this blog, is her song "Hussel," featuring Afrikan Boy.



We do it cheap hide our money in a heap
Send it home and make em study
Fixing teeth, I got family, a friend in need
A hand to throw the gasoline
A mobile phone hooked up to the scene
Hello my frind yes it's me
Dont be scared there's somethin going on
Im gettin money since I grown
Could be dash go out and hussel em
But I hate money coz it makes me numb

Hussel hussel hussel
Grind grind grind
Why has everyone got hussel on their mind?

Hussel hussel hussel
Grind grind grind
Why has everyone got hussel on their mind?

(AFRIKAN BOY)
You think its tough now,
Come to africa,
Out there we are grinding like pepper,
You can catch me on the motorway,
Selling sugar water and pepper,
I rep Africa not Miami,
Hustle hustle with m.i.a,
I'm broke I've got indefinite stay,
You can't touch me like leprosy,
I hustle tough from here to sri lanka,
My mum told me to be an accountant,
Bun that I wanna work in a corner shop,
Contact sugu he's got the contacts mayne,
I'm illegal I don't pay tax tax,
EMA yes I'm claiming that that,
Police I try to avoid them,
They catch me hustling they say deport them,

Hussel hussel hussel (2x)
Grind grind grind
Why has everyone got hussel on their mind?

Hello my friend, hello my friend
Yes it's me
4 by 3 ,3 buy 3 , buy 1 song get 1 free
Maybe me, a bootleg cd colour tv or dvd
We got barrels in the sea
Its big enough to take a whole family
We drum on it
Jun cha cha gegujun cha
Jun cha cha gegujun cha

Come sit by me, let me tell u we
Don't do bling but we do white tee
Up some jungle up some tree
One second , my phones ringing
Its my friend habibi
He then went drop called me
Cheap moroccan got no credit than me
Ya'll got less credit than me
I keep that tab at a shop like a gee
Coz without me there'll be no chocolate hershey

Hussel hussel hussel (6x)
Grind grind grind
Why has everyone got hussel on their mind?

It's not easy making a living far from home. 

From M.I.A.'s Wikipedia entry:

In an August 2007 interview, Arulpragasam said "It's O.K. to add new elements to your ideas, to your existence...There will be more bridges built between the developed and developing world." M.I.A. has included numerous artists from developed and developing countries in her music. She says the attention entertainment figures bring to the developing world is beneficial, but has noted that while Western music has permeated into developing societies such as in Africa, many people in the West do not "hear the starving African kids say something or do something or sing something or express something. We show them but they don't have a voice."
She and her collaborators represent not only the impact of Western music on global culture, but the increasing impact the South is coming to have.

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3 Comments

kyledeb said:

Just listening to this now. Loving it, yave.

Nope said:

I love that you guys are even more behind on pop music trends than I am.

joseph S. said:

I love M.i.A, she is such a rebel, and I love how she incorparates music from India,Africa, and New York all into one ensemble

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This page contains a single entry by David Bennion published on October 27, 2008 11:44 PM.

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