The "world" section at your local music retailer is just a way to pile together all the stuff that isn't from America or the U.K. But M.I.A.'s Kala truly deserves to be called a world album.
The English-born Sri Lankan (born Maya Arulpragasam) did a lot of jumping from continent to continent, capturing the musical flavor of several different cultures while infusing them with booming 808s and frantic grooves. "Bird Flu" and "Boyz" highlight the music of Africa. "Jimmy" and "Bamboo Banger" rework Bollywood samples. "Mango Pickle Down River" sounds like an aboriginal "Paul Revere" with didgeridoos.
Kala pounds the body with dance rhythms so furious, you'll either torch yourself or get up offa that thang and do your best A Night at the Roxbury impression. With "Paper Planes" and the Timbaland-produced "Come Around," M.I.A. does provide a slower pace for all you headnodders. But they seem kinda boring juxtaposed with the 120 BPM-plus bangers on this disc. The final product is a fierce offering with a lot of bold, creative sound that's accessible in whatever hemisphere you find yourself.