When Sri Lankan MC M.I.A. released her debut album, Arular, earlier this year, she was quickly anointed brightest new star in indie music universe. For better or worse, fans fetishisized her Asian ancestry, while her vaguely revolutionary lyrics and Tamil Tiger father earned her the favor of the perennially left-leaning music press. But none of this would matter if the music were not so damn compelling. The album's production borrowed equally from favela funk, Jamaica's dancehall, NYC electro, and hip-hop, and M.I.A.'s rhymes were equally manic -- drawing from both the rushed cadences of ragga (as filtered through garage) and the euphoric (and at times silly) stomp of old-school hip-hop. Above all, this was something straight out of the here and now, and reflected a world where cultural barriers continued to collapse. It was utterly uncanny -- the sort of music that would knock you on your ass and then gleefully laugh at your surprise. And the Western pop world took notice. After Arular's release, M.I.A. signed with Interscope Records (the same behemoth that houses 50 Cent and Gwen Stefani) and earned a guest appearance on Missy Elliott's most recent album, The Cookbook. Now it's time for indie fans in Miami to get a taste of 2005's hottest act. Don't miss your chance.

M.I.A. performs Sunday, September 18, at I/O, 30 NE 4th St, Miami. Doors open at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $15. For more info, visit www.epoplife.com or call 305-358-8007.


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