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M.I.A. brings her agitprop hip-hop to Stage AE

M.I.A. featuring A$AP Ferg will be playing Stage AE on Mon., April 28. Tickets are available here.

A cursory glance over Maya Arulpragasam’s career as the internationally chic MC, M.I.A. can turn even the most lukewarm pop culture consumer into a hawkeyed ethnographer attempting to derive meaning from her incendiary mishmash of influences and signifiers. She serves up her leftist, globe trotting hip-hop with healthy helpings of Madonna’s sneering provocational pop, Public Enemy’s righteous indignation and the hyperactive island beats of reaggaeton. Also, she regularly deploys images and symbols associated with revolutionary politics and terrorism as trappings for music videos. She’s been accused of exploiting radical, third world activism for the sake of edgy coolness by
New York Times Magazine, and she’s made an album that takes inspiration from a Hindu goddess who supposedly invented music 5,000 years ago. Oh, and she’s also given the finger to around about 150 million people.

Suffice it to say, one could argue M.I.A. epitomizes the pschizophrenia of 21st century globalized pop art. She has cannily produced music from discarded and disparate pieces of culture, directly attacking the Western establishment while slowly becoming a part of the very same machine. She put her best foot forward on her 2013 album Matangi, dropping arguably her most accessible track to date in the debut single “Bad Girls,” but ultimately created one of the most abrasive, widely-released records this side of Kanye West’s Yeezus. The rest of the album clangs and barks with industrial throbs, baile funk rhythms and Middle Eastern inflections.

Rarely slowing down to offer anything resembling a hook, the album instead relies on a crushingly cool set of couplets and quatraints, like on the burping lurch of album centerpiece “Y.A.L.A.”: “I drink some Cointreau / Keep it in my poncho / Light up like Castro / Blow it up from get go." Matangi is an artillery assault on club ready hip-hop; a set of songs that M.I.A. will excitedly use to oblitrate the sound system at Stage AE when she graces the stage on Monday with A$AP MOB capo A$AP Ferg. Is Pittsburgh ready for this self-styled pop music revolutionary to set the stage on fire? I guess we’ll just have to find out. For tickets and more information on M.I.A.'s concert, head over to Ticketmaster.  (400 N. Shore Drive, North Shore, Stage AE, www.stageae.com)
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