I heard from Sepia Mutiny’s post about M.I.A. getting “dissed” by DeLon, a new rapper of Sri Lankan descent. DeLon took M.I.A.’s most popular song, “Paper Planes,” called out her politics and support of the Tamil Tigers, and shows the “terrorist” side of that group. (You can see the disturbing video here.)
I don’t know enough about the situation in Sri Lanka to really make judgments. But DeLon’s video bothered me because he is employing exactly the same strategy that the Bush administration does: creating a dichotomy of good and evil, and using the word “terrorist” like it’s not subjective.
That said, I have always been a bit skeptical of M.I.A’s politics. Is she just projecting an irresistible (lucrative) image, or is she actually doing anything? When I went to her show at McCarren Pool in June, it made me a bit uncomfortable to be dancing around with a bunch of hipsters in Brooklyn while she has images of children from developing countries flashing across the back of the stage as her visual aids.
That’s part of the brilliance of M.I.A.’s whole persona. Her music, and the visual effects in her shows, and even her voice, are so flashy and noisy and chaotic. But I mean that in the best way possible. She seems to represent our generation of media-saturated, globalized, de-sensitized minds. And she is somehow able to shout over all the noise.
After the show, I was filled with energy for at least 24 hours. But it wasn’t noisy and aimless energy, like the energy the concert seemed to evoke. It was productive and creative and even peaceful energy; I remember I felt like writing all day after waking up the next morning. And that could be one small example of how art can make a difference. Of course she’s not going to change the plight of poor people by singing about it to a bunch of hipsters. But I do think there was something remarkable about that energy.
Going back to the “diss” I was initially talking about: It seems obvious that DeLon is doing this as a publicity stunt too. I guess that’s kind of the point of both politics and the music industry, though.
Maybe they can make peace and do a song together?