17

Paper Planes

M.I.A.

Kala (2007)

I loved M.I.A.’s “Arular” album, and was equally impressed with her follow-up “Kala” — both mixed genres and cultures in a thrillingly unexpected way. And then there’s the song with the gunshot chorus. The first time I heard “Paper Planes” I was actually shocked — which is, generally, a hard reaction for a song to trigger (pardon the pun). She’s singing: “all I want to do is shoot you and take your money” — which, on a literal level, is rather extreme to say the least. I later read that her thinking behind this song was as a commentary on the racial/cultural profiling she had seen and experienced first-hand. By flat-out confessing to a stereotype, she’s pointing out just how ridiculous those stereotypes are. And she’s doing it with a very memorable chorus, clever raps (“I pack and deliver like UPS trucks”), and a hip-hop beat layered over a Clash sample. The fact that it became a mega-hit just sweetens the deal.

Also check out: “Galang” from her “Arular” album — which might even be catchier than “Paper Planes”