Combative chant-rapper and electro-dance innovator M.I.A. dropped two bombs in 2010: her "official" album, Maya, which failed to make waves in the U.S., and her free, "unofficial" mixtape, Vicki Leekx, which catapulted her back into the spotlight just as the old year faded into the new. Flaunting 19 sassy, brain- and booty-busting tracks in 36 minutes, Vicki obliterates Ke$ha and Rihanna in one fell swoop -- if they were ever competition. Download it here.
The new songs rally for free speech and free music while delivering a swift diss to those who've denounced her recent claims, crimes and contradictions -- describing Facebook as a CIA tool, vindictively publishing a reporter's phone number, marrying the heir to the Seagram fortune. This isn't just a barrel of club bangers, but it works on that level, too, brandishing razor-sharp hooks in "Bad Girls" and unfurling mean-girl taunts to tribal beats in "Marsha/Britney."
Come for M.I.A.'s party and stay for the conversation. It's hard to say which will be more exhilarating - or exhausting.