While MTV was dropping Jersey Shore's Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi from a ridiculous ball on New Year's Eve, musical provocateur M.I.A. ended 2010 by subversively releasing an audacious and free mixtape titled ViCKi LEEKX. Making good on a promise to her fans, the rapper/singer unleashed the 36-minute piece of audio fury online to those who entered a valid e-mail address on the mixtape's website. Inspired by Wikileaks–the nonprofit media organization that has published embassy cables and war diaries much to the disdain of government officials, bankers and others caught up in the wikipanic–ViCKi LEEKX opens with the salvo, “We choose the right format; we leak the information to the public. And we defend ourselves against inevitable legal and political attacks.”
From that point forward, the music doesn't stop. The Sri Lankan political purveyor of global-village dance beats meshes 18 identifiable tracks into one continuous half-hour musical assault. With the production assistance of Diplo, Blaqstarr, Danjahands and others, ViCKi LEEKX traverses a sonic landscape more accessible than most of the tracks off M.I.A.'s 2010 full-length offering, MAYA. After just one listen, it becomes apparent that if a few of the new tracks had been included in the album, it would have strengthened the effort overall and ensured its place on more critics' end-of-the-year best-of lists.
With Auto-Tune and attitude, M.I.A. addresses the ample collection of haters she seemingly attracted last year. Mixtapes are often utilized by musicians to whet the appetite of fans in between albums or to satisfy the stipulations of a contract, but the summer release of MAYA lends credence to the notion that M.I.A. may have been motivated by other factors. Standout track “Gen N-E-Y” fires off, “You think you're bad/You think you're so fucking cool/Generation N-E-Y/We're already dead/If you don't give a fuck/Then I don't give a damn, but/Down with the scene that makes us so numb.”
The only shame of ViCKi LEEKX is that, unless fans were on top of it, they probably discovered the mixtape after the New Year. It could have served as a proper soundtrack to celebrations of that festive occasion. If it had been released even sooner, perhaps alleged Wikileaker Private Bradley Manning could have copied government files onto a CD-RW labeled “M.I.A.” instead of “Lady Gaga.”