In her early life, Maya Arulpragasam lived through a series of tense displacements owing to her father’s Tamil political activism. The title of her debut is his code name. M.I.A’s unfiltered lyrics, her explosive use of the drum machine and the overarching guerilla themes are so organic that this album immediately becomes the soundtrack to revolution and the spirit that drives it. The beats are militaristic in their formation, standing to attention behind the vocals. Because ‘Arular’ is the thrilling voice of no one but its maker, the album has assumed an endless endurance: it distils dancehall, politics, and rhythm like few other albums this century.
A favourite: ‘Amazon’