Kala

Metascore
87

Universal acclaim - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 37
  2. Negative: 1 out of 37
  1. Kala nearly makes "Arular" seem tame in comparison, magnifying most of its predecessor's qualities as it remains bracingly adventurous.
  2. M.I.A. has given us one of the albums of the year. Bravo.
  3. Kala is clattering, buzzy, and sonically audacious.
  4. 80
    She twangs the boundaries of taste both lyrically ("Take me on a genocide tour/Take me on a trip to Darfur") and musically. But a knockout's a knockout, however messy the bout.
  5. Q Magazine
    80
    Everything here is a fantastic hybrid, M.I.A. and her platoon of producers thieving fashionable street sounds from Baltimore hip hop to Brazil's baile funk. [Sep 2007, p.89]
  6. Mojo
    80
    Defiant cosmopolitanism doesn't come much more feisty, or compelling than this. [Sep 2007, p.104]
  7. Kala strikes deep. There's a resolute sarcasm, a weariness and defiant determination, a sense of pleasure carved out of work--articulated by the lyrics, embodied by the music.
  8. With its mix of Tamil pop, Baltimore beats and, yes, funk carioca Kala succeeds best in pulling genres together to make something both unique and identifiable --a 'hip-hop' record that explores what it means to sing about "hip-hop things."
  9. Under The Radar
    80
    Kala not only doesn't disappoint, it renews faith in M.I.A. and confirms her commitment to the individualistic sound she has created. [Summer 2007, p.74]
  10. MIA innovates club music, art music and pop music at every turn.
  11. Even at its weakest moments, Kala sounds unique--and, thrillingly, like an album that could only have been made in 2007, which is not something you can say about many albums made in 2007.
  12. Here she is doing what she does best--weaving the sounds and statements of the people she's writing about into the song itself.
  13. Kala is such a resolutely strange, sweltering album that it's thrilling to be alive in an era when such a thing can lay claim to the mantle of "pop."
  14. Spin
    90
    M.I.A.'s border-crossing dance pop is a revolutionary manifesto set to the victory-party vibe of the future. [Sep 2007, p.127]
  15. Entertainment Weekly
    75
    Kala is propelled by genuinely stellar moments. [24 Aug 2007, p.133]
  16. At first, you’re itching for her to tear into such a juicy beat. But after a couple of listens, you realize it’s a tactful deference that allows her to be in the mix without commandeering it. She could if she wanted to, but she’s passed that.
  17. M.I.A., undoubtedly the truest "outsider" to emerge on the pop landscape in ages, has crafted an album that, in its best moments, positions her as an impassioned advocate for the disenfranchised.
  18. Inconclusive. Kala plays as mixed media pastiche, a barely restrained amalgam of ideas that are hardly exhausted by beats or flow and double and triple as political references.
  19. The result is Kala a stark confrontation of set notions of authenticity and identity--and my new favorite record.
  20. 80
    The impact of M.I.A.'s music isn't in what she says, but how it arrives: in tracks so irritating they're irresistible. Anything but naive, M.I.A. brings a connoisseur's ear to her beats.
  21. Kala is the sound of a hugely creative, angry, head-strong young artist reaching well beyond her means, both musically and politically, and coming up short, though, to be fair, it still manages to contain a few of the best songs of the year.
  22. Although there are a couple of failed tracks--like the tediously slow 'The Turn'--most of this stuff is groundbreaking.
  23. Even more so than her arresting 2005 indie debut, "Arular," M.I.A. comes off as a globetrotting activist on sophomore effort Kala.
  24. Kala is definitely a song-based album, but, that being said, the songs fit together perfectly, and even more surprisingly, they’re all good.
  25. The Wire
    80
    'Bomboo Banga' is pure power monotony, her deadpan one-note voice mixed with car engines, samples of Bombay pop, Booty Bass and tribal rhythms, is a perfect soundtrack to a stroll down London's Banglatown. [Sep 2007, p.57]
  26. Three loud cheers for her scattershot creativity, please.
  27. In a voice that shifts from pout to growl in a beat’s time, M.I.A.'s verses and hooks are as mercurial in tone as the backing tracks.
  28. The album hits hardest by embodying the process by which certain voices are bottled up and distorted within the global noise of what M.I.A. calls "Third World Democracy."
  29. Urb
    90
    Her most anticipated follow-up is again the most cross cultural jam you'll hear this year. [Sep/Oct 2007, p.129]
  30. It is more expansive and daring--resulting in more highs and lows than "Arular."
  31. Kala is only received as a political record if you listen up properly. The music itself no longer asserts itself like a militia; it's too calm and more scattered.
  32. There are the terrible lyrics and more than a few moments where her one-style-fits-all MCing grates, but there's also the politics that no one else would touch, an intelligence, colour and humour, and the added benefit of centrifugally heavy production. Skip a couple, and you're in for a treat.
  33. Kala is pop music without the vapidity, and political music without the condescension.
  34. Kala is an intoxicating junk-culture travelogue, a genre-humping mash-up of Bollywood rumbles, shrieking guitars and machine-gun rhymes.
  35. Like her debut, Kala is somewhat inconsistent, for slightly different reasons. While there isn't the distraction of short tracks and skits to break the flow, some of the songs essentially do the same thing by shooting high and missing the mark.
  36. Vibe
    30
    The majority of Kala is limp and unfocused. [Sep 2007, p.133]
  37. M.I.A. and co-producers, including Switch, straddle more styles than you’d find in most music collections, let alone on the same disc.
User Score
8.6

Universal acclaim- based on 292 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 96 out of 116
  2. Negative: 13 out of 116
  1. Oct 2, 2011
    10
    Epical! It's just the adjective I can use to explain the mixing of references and beats that one of the most reminding singer ever done. MayaEpical! It's just the adjective I can use to explain the mixing of references and beats that one of the most reminding singer ever done. Maya Aralprugasam a.k.a. M.I.A. returned after her acclaimed start "Arular" with more power (like she herself says in "Bamboo Banga", one the greatest songs of this album). When the urban culture got down with the African beat, it turned into a CD that contains pearls like "Paper Planes", "XR2", "Jimmy" e "World Town". The great difference for the first CD is that this one bring the power of the streets, and not just the powerbeat from Africa. This mixing is the special thing, the X-Factor, that makes this, one the shinny albums ever. Full Review »
  2. DizzY.
    Aug 27, 2007
    9
    Vibe listen carefully, open your mind. MIA is great.
  3. Sep 8, 2016
    10
    Meu album favorito da M.I.A. acho genial e maravilhoso . Fora o conceito que ele oferece...parece surreal, tudo nesse disco é perfeito. até asMeu album favorito da M.I.A. acho genial e maravilhoso . Fora o conceito que ele oferece...parece surreal, tudo nesse disco é perfeito. até as piores musicas do album se tornam agradáveis Full Review »