The new face of rap – MIA, Princess Superstar and Lady Sovereign

I formally confess my musical pleasure. If you were a casual reader, you would know I listen to Jason Bentley on KCRW in LA on the Internet every night. Where I get my dose of electronics in many varieties. I sometimes listen to Streatbeat Northwestern University on WNUR here in Chicago for similar offers. But some songs almost escape the genre. This brings us to three young women who have made a big splash in the last few years. Their names may not be familiar to you; but I can almost guarantee you heard their music. M.I.A., Princess Superstar, and Lady Sovereign.

Probably the most popular today is M.I.A. When I first saw her it was clear she was Indian and when I heard her speak it was clear she was from the UK. Basically British or “Brindian” as I often say.

(By the way, now that I have a public forum, I would like to officially declare myself the inventor of common word contracting, also known as portmanteau. I lived for over 20 years in New York and Los Angeles, both major media outlets, from late 1980s to mid 2000s. During this time, I have spoken to a lot of people who have dealt with many areas of the media – and my cool contribution to the English language has never been appreciated. I know it’s hard to prove and therefore hard to believe. But I know what I did. And I made it up! )

But back to M.I.A., she was actually born in Sri Lanka, and if you read her life story on the Wiki, it’s kind of crazy. Her new album Kala is everywhere because of the song and music video for Boyz. And if you watch Heroes, they did a double Dutch scene for this song a few weeks ago. He has another tune called Paper Plans, in which he freely samples with Clash. She did this on Letterman as well and had a Milli Vanilla moment, but the clip is just music set to pix.

Her music is fun. It’s nice to listen to because of the rhythm. He is clearly a person fascinated by the Roland MC-505. The first time I heard her music, I quickly remembered Adam Ant. Most of his music uses Burundi rhythm. Then it felt as if it sounded to the beat of the Bali Kecak. This Kecak ceremony was filmed in the Baraka movie (and Steve-O’s Wild Boys filmed it as well). If you decide to watch the YouTube Kecak clip, let me just say that it can be a little disturbing. This may not be the right word, but it’s unusual, so just brace yourself.

(Did this exposure to culture surprise you? I think it’s because of my degree in Anthropology from Columbia University? And yes, I have a 10-foot travel whip. But I assure you I’m the only one wearing it! Is; one chase through the South American jungle so that I won’t go empty-handed anymore).

But is it still rap music performed by lovely young women from England, the Jewish community of New York and Sri Lanka? Princess Superstar comes from New York and is Jewish, but after 10 years who could question her qualifications? Definitely not me. He calls it more a “flip flop” because, like M.I.A. draws its influence from various sources, including today’s electronics. She’s also done DJing and recently made a VERY popular collaboration with Mason.

Lady Sovereign is next. She is from England and she is very young. But trust me, you know her Love Me Or Hate Me melody. I think you ended up with a commercial phone. Very catchy again and I like it very much.

I also want to throw something else at you; Justice. They shouldn’t really be talking about rappers. As a duo, electonica are much more comparable to Daft Punk, Air, the Chemical Brothers, the Crystal Method and Basement Jaxx. But now they’ve released some popular songs and there’s a very good chance you’ve heard this one and there’s a singer on it, so it fits that theme.

So here they are; giving rap a new face. It’s like Punk rock split into about half a dozen bands in the late 90’s, I think rap is entering a more diverse stage.

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