To try and describe M.I.A.'s "Arular" almost seems futile. With influences that range from dancehall, hip-hop, electro, dance and world music, the debut set by the 28-year-old London-based artist (bor

To try and describe M.I.A.'s "Arular" almost seems futile. With influences that range from dancehall, hip-hop, electro, dance and world music, the debut set by the 28-year-old London-based artist (born Maya Arulpragasam) is as varied as can be. All the elements are deftly held together by the MC/songstress' ability to make each track her own. The raga-flavored "Fire Fire" and old-school-shaded "Bucky Done Gun" showcase M.I.A.'s melodic, sing-song delivery, which is as intoxicating as it is infectious. Lead single "Galang" is already an underground club hit, with good reason. The Ross Orton/Steve Mackey-produced jam, fueled by in-your-face hand claps, is pure exhilaration. With a title that pays homage to her father's past as a Sri Lankan freedom fighter, "Arular" serves as M.I.A.'s very own call for independence.—RH

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