Maya Arulpragasam, the British-based daughter of Sri Lankan refugees, delivered one of 2005's eye-popping debuts, Arular
. For an album that proudly flaunted tin-can production, indecipherable South London slang, and lyrical nods to suicide bombers, it brought the woman who records under the name M.I.A. unexpected mainstream success--she followed its release by touring North America with Gwen Stefani and recording with Missy Elliott and Timbaland, while the single "Galang" made its way into a car commercial. Kala
(the first release was named after her freedom-fighting father, this one after her mother) throws Arulpragasam's newfound pop credentials into the bustle of Bollywood rhythms, police sirens, 8-bit dancehall beats, Third World car horns, and street singers. Recorded across several continents, it presents a far more dynamic listening experience than her first album, especially with tracks like "Bamboo Banga," "Jimmy," and "Paper Planes." It's no less exhausting, though. What with the New Order sample, Timbaland cameo, and gunshot sound effects, there isn't a moment when it doesn't feel like you've unintentionally invited an entire carnival into your home. --Aidin Vaziri
M.I.A. is UK singer/rapper Maya Arulpragasam. Her 2005 debut album Arular unleashed her devastating dislocated beats, pounding basslines and chant-along vocals. M.I.A.'s unparalleled mongrel mix of hip-hop, ragga, dancehall, electro and punk saw Arular garner praise from far and wide, including being short listed for the Mercury Music Prize. In the USA M.I.A. signed with Interscope and hit the road opening for Gwen Stefani. M.I.A. is now set to release her second studio album, Kala. Amazing talent join forces with her on the new album, including Diplo, Timbaland, DJ Blaqstarr, Three 6 Mafia and producer, Switch.