Album Review

Download of the Week: M.I.A.’s Vicki Leekx Mixtape (Review)

“I’m not talking about making it free, I’m talking about making it freer,” M.I.A. announces on Vicki Leekx, which was released at midnight on December 31.

And so, she has: Vicki Leekx is M.I.A.’s second free mixtape after 2004’s Piracy Funds Terrorism, this time bolstered with a bit more star wattage on the production front thanks to the likes of Danja, Munchi, Diplo, Blaqstarr, Sugu Aruler, Switch, Rusko, and So Japan.

Fans who found themselves put off by the unpolished grit and wailing screeches of /\/\/\Y/\ will find much to love in the Vicki Leekx mixtape, a continuous mix that polishes the best gems from M.I.A.’s last album, wraps them around the bounciest beats of Arular and worldly influences of Kala, and then sends them speeding into the next century with stellar, intergalactic dubstep sound.

Vicki Leekx is a concentrated moment of mania, jumping between beats and samples at breakneck speed–from the Arular-esque electro-eclecticism of “Super Tight” to the tribal, “Boyz”-like “Tamil Beat Munchi” (which includes a brilliant moment in sampling with Nicki Minaj‘s verse on Kanye West‘s “Monster”), to the gloriously scathing “Generation -N-E-Y”–a track originally leaked on one of M.I.A.’s many odd, ugly .GIF-heavy landing pages that cropped up earlier in 2010. “You think you’re bad, you think you’re so fucking cool,” M.I.A. snarls above the song’s monstrously grinding beats. It’s an utterly major attitude attack–and arguably the mixtape’s finest moment.

To be fair, though–while the music is supreme, the politics remain hopelessly muddled. As Sputnik Music member Conrad Tao points out in his own review of the mixtape, M.I.A. is a seemingly endless barrage of contradictions. Apart from her own personal hypocrisies, it’s never really clear what M.I.A. is exactly criticizing (Money? The government? The Internet? Facebook? Hipsters? Everything?)–and to what to degree she’s even being serious. To try and analyze this mind-melting mishmash of sociopolitical motifs would prove impossible–there’s simply too many inconsistencies.

Yet political motivations (or non-motivations) aside, M.I.A. has rolled out a solid, concise production with deep, thumping beats and stuttering vocals that bang as hard as anything else released last year. Vicki Leekx is basically the epitome of why I first fell in love with M.I.A. back in 2005: It’s provocative, it’s addictive…but above all, it’s fucking cool.

DOWNLOAD THIS NOW.