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Claire Lobenfeld

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A “pathetic fallacy” occurs when, in a story, nature reacts to a human emotion: when everything is going wrong and a character says something like, “At least it’s not raining,” and then BAM! it rains. Lykke Li, the current queen of heartbreak, had the opposite effect on New York City last night. A rainy morning cleared up before she took the stage at Harlem’s Apollo Theatre. And what happened inside the iconic venue was a parallel exercise in finding the light when everything else is just so very dark.

M.I.A. is supposed to be a messenger, but the mission of her music is often obscured by critics’ and listeners’ schismatic view of her work. But before her war with the NFL, her allegiance with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, or those goddamn truffle fries, she was a neon prism at the end of a long musical tunnel dominated by what we’ll call “The Bands.” Along with Dipset and DFA, the rapper, née Matangi “Maya” Arulpragasm, was one of the puzzle pieces that began indie rock’s distance from guitar rock and its constantly-evolving fascination with pastiche. She’s been Diplo’s muse, one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Interesting People, and the only person to ever perform on the Grammys while practically about to give birth. But regardless of an astounding number of accomplishments — she’s the first artist to be nominated for an Oscar, Grammy, Brit Award, and the Mercury Prize, so take that, EGOTs — and her ability to craft some of the most interesting pop music of this century, she continues to confound and propel the public. This has conceivably less to do with her interests and inspirations than it does with the fact that people tend to be unsure how to receive those interests and inspirations, particularly because she is so often painted as a humorless solipsist grasping at “ethnic” straws. In a recent piece for Noisey, writer Ayesha A. Siddiqi nailed the realities behind this struggle:

M.I.A.’s Matangi is out today and along with the religious iconography that is referenced throughout the album, in a recent interview with NPR, the “Bad Girls” rapper has explained that the middle finger she gave at the 2012 Super Bowl halftime show is part of that spiritual expression. When asked why she did it, she explains, “It’s the Matangi mudra… in America you have gang signs, and people throw up initials and stuff like that. Well, 5,000 years ago, there was thing called a mudra, which is your sitting position when you do yoga or you’re meditating or praying or whatever. And you have different ones based on what you’re meditating over. There’s not a lot of them that are named after gods and goddesses, but the middle finger is specifically named Matangi — the Matangi mudra.”

Comments

 +2Posted on Jul 15th | re: Lykke Li - "Gunshot" Video (5 comments)

EXTENDED BREAKUP METAPHOR. TRUST.

All music videos are Beats commercials now.

 +7Posted on May 2nd | re: The 5 Best Songs Of The Week (26 comments)

OK, well sometimes I get nostalgic for Tom rants.

 +8Posted on May 2nd | re: The 5 Best Songs Of The Week (26 comments)

I doubt it happened, but I just have this vision of Ariana Grande not initially making it to #1 and Tom letting off a fantastic display of profanity to get it there. Aw, I miss you guys.

 0Posted on Feb 20th | re: Stereogum SXSW 2014 Day Party Lineup (15 comments)

This is so great! I am sad I won’t be there :(

 +2Posted on Feb 5th | re: Mixtape Of The Week: Pearls Negras Biggie Apple (5 comments)

Yes! Best choice! Also, makes me wish that my Portuguese wasn’t so terrible.

 0Posted on Jan 7th | re: Twin Shadow - "Cupid" (112 Cover) (4 comments)

<3

 +1Posted on Jan 7th | re: Twin Shadow - "Cupid" (112 Cover) (4 comments)

This isn’t THAT bad, but I hate that it happened.

At least it’s not “Only You” or “U Already Know” or “Dance With Me” or “Anywhere” or—NEVER MIND, PROTECT 112 FROM ALL COVERS.

(Hi guys!)

 +13Posted on Nov 15th, 2013 | re: Shut Up, Dude: This Week's Best And Worst Comments (36 comments)

I have been thinking all week I would be #1. I am so sad.

Should I just become part of the commentariat?

 +14Posted on Nov 15th, 2013 | re: Shut Up, Dude: This Week's Best And Worst Comments (36 comments)

I WAS SO CLOSE