“Kala” is the second studio album by M.I.A., a British rapper and singer of Sri Lankan Tamil descent (real name: Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam), who was born in London in 1975, and is known for her music that combines elements of hip-hop, electro, dancehall reggae, and UK club music (garage and grime).
The album was recorded in 2006–2007 and was released on British independent record label XL Recordings in 2007. It reached number 18 on US Billboard 200 and number 39 on UK albums charts.
Her debut album “Arular” (2005) was an electroclash-oriented album by using Roland MC-505, while this album is more aggressive than “Arular”, and it is characterized by the heavy use of sampling, powerful beats, influence of South Asian music, musical promiscuousness in a “world fusion” style.
It includes sound sources such as voices, songs and raps recorded in various locations across the globe, including India, Angola, Trinidad, Liberia, Jamaica, and Australia.
The lyrics deal with political themes, including poverty and immigration.
Most tracks were written and produced by M.I.A. in collaboration with UK house DJ/producer Switch.
The album includes singles, “Bird Flu”, “Boyz”, “Jimmy”, and “Paper Planes” (number 19 on UK charts).
“Jimmy” is a cover of “Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Aaja”, a song from the 1982 Indian film “Disco Dancer”.
“Paper Planes” refers to “Straight to Hell” (1982) by the Clash.
“Bird Flu” and “Boyz” feature drums used in music of Tamil Nadu, India.
“Bamboo Banga” refers to “Roadrunner” (1976) by the Modern Lovers.
“20 Dollar” refers to “Where Is My Mind?” (1988) by Pixies and the bassline of “Blue Monday” (1983) by New Order.
The album has been critically acclaimed as an alternative dance music masterpiece. In 2013, “New Musical Express (NME)” ranked it number 184 in its list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”.