The Wayward Crucifixion of M.I.A.

On the dodgy, opportunistic, truffle-fry-fueled campaign against both Maya and Maya

Still, the dust-up could’ve blown over, but after M.I.A.’s aggrieved overreaction (Tweeting Hirschberg’s cell number), a Tea Party–like shout-down commenced that bedeviled her year. Pitchfork, after turning over its Twitter feed to M.I.A. in a pre-release publicity stunt, savaged Maya as a “shambling mess” that was “anti-pop,” suggesting fans were no longer willing to put up with her “shit.” Stereogum decried its “obscurity.” The Guardian, Q, and Urb recoiled. Her tastemaking pussy posse was heading for the exits. After glitches at a record-release show and Governor’s Island concert, even the Voice’s Sound of the City blog asked if M.I.A.’s 2010 was cursed. Apparently not, since a story later appeared in December titled “Redeeming M.I.A.” (Stereogum belatedly recanted, as well.) This backlash to the backlash was certainly fueled by the music’s undeniable merit, but it also reeked of impulsive, click-me-please grandstanding.

Maybe a revolt was inevitable for such a strident, trickster-ish pop star whose music aspires to be nothing less than global pirate radio—static-y, disruptive, ephemeral, rump-shakin’, code-breakin’. Some suggested that the Vicki Leekx mixtape accomplished that goal more effectively than Maya—giving the raucous beats the flow of a DJ mix as M.I.A. flicked playful gibes—but it was simply less stressed-out, a sassier after-hours rumpus. The “Vicki Leekx” alias, for example, is so ingeniously sly because it transforms WikiLeaks founder and supervillainous will-o’-the-wisp Julian Assange into the kookiest clubrat alter ego Nicki Minaj never envisioned. Vicki, at least on the surface, is more into dancing deliriously than dumping docs—or maybe that’s just an artful guise to evade critical capture.

Bottom line: Were their 30 better records in 2010 than Maya (or Vicki Leekx, for that matter, released well after Pazz & Jop voting closed)? Is Maya such a joyless slog compared to her earlier records, Arular (#2 in 2005) and Kala (#3 in 2007)? After all the authenticity litmus tests thrown at someone who was born in a war zone (which most of us couldn’t find on a map) by desk jockeys who practice a profession that’s basically a glorified work-release program, those questions remain moot. Too many people showed their asses. Back in August, I embraced Maya as a cause célèbre, but as the nonsense wore on, it became pointless to defend a record that people refused to hear.

Eat a bowl of dicks, everybody.
Santiago Felipe
Eat a bowl of dicks, everybody.


Maya (#31 album)

Pazz and Jop 2010
Rise of the Douchebags
Kanye West and James Murphy turn their private flaws into public triumphs
By Zach Baron

Never Forget
Cee Lo Green sums up 2010 in two little words
By Rob Harvilla

Little Pink Polos for You and Me
Wallowing and/or reveling in social anxiety with Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend
By Eric Harvey

Leave Chillwave Alone
In defense of the nostalgia-steeped genre Ariel Pink both invented and abandoned
By Simon Reynolds

Attack of the Singing Rappers
On Drake, Nicki Minaj, B.o.B., and the art of the debut-as-pop-crossover
By Clover Hope

The Great Gay-Pander-Off of 2010
Katy, Nicki, Ke$ha, P!nk, and Gaga taste the rainbow
By Rich Juzwiak

The Internet-Rap Atomization
Odd Future, Lil B, Wiz Khalifa, et al. build tiny kingdoms, and rule them
By Tom Breihan

Justin Bieber, Twitter Casanova
The Most Popular Boy in the World rules the only voting bloc that matters: pre-teen girls
By Camille Dodero

The Top Ten
From Kanye West to The Suburbs

Stuff We Like
Rick Ross Lies, the Rolling Stones Plunder, And Taylor Swift Triumphs

The Personals
Industry Woes, Cultural Theories, Polite Suggestions, and Calls of Bullshit

So what’s left to say? One answer lies in the always-relevant music-critic homage Mean Girls, when Plastic wannabe Cady pathetically asks outcast Janis Ian, “Hey, are we still in a fight?” To which Janis replies, eloquently speaking for M.I.A. fans worldwide, “Are you still an asshole?”

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