2010 was, what you can call, an arduous year for M.I.A.
It certainly was not 2007, where she was critically on top of the world.
It was a year where M.I.A's always politically ridden language was analyzed, criticized, and mocked. It was as if her personal relationship with her fiance, and the benefits of that relationship, suddenly made her ineligible to fight for (right or wrong) all she had spent all of her adult life fighting.
All of the negative press M.I.A received culminated in her summer 2010 release of /\/\ /\ Y /\. The album was schizophrenic, jarring, and completely different from Kala, her most previous and most successful release. Kala featured rawer, darker lyrics over more more listener friendly musical forms of music like soca and dance rave.
Kala featured her most successful single, "Paper Planes", that wrongfully came to represent M.I.A's style and approach to music. The song was slow paced, had a strong hook, and was associated with stoner film Pineapple Express. Many people who claimed to love M.I.A, missed the story in the song: the story of a person driving a cab for fifteen to twenty hours a day, while socially being a threat, and only wanting to be with the family they cannot see due to such a time consuming job.
After touring and having a baby M.I.A released /\/\ /\ Y /\. /\/\ /\ Y /\ is a complete departure from Kala. M.I.A was surprised by the commercial success she had with Kala, and in true M.I.A fashion did exactly the opposite of what was expected of her. Both Arular and Kala, Kala more so than Arular, featured well produced club songs but with /\/\ /\ Y /\ there were buzz saws, chains, songs that didn't mesh, auto tuned jumbles of sound that were anything but club songs.
M.I.A's albums were all named and based after someone; Arular was made for her father a guerilla fighter. Arular had fast paced, tempo songs about war and sacrifice. Kala was named after her mother, a seamstress, had songs about sacrifice but the sacrifices of a mother and the music was softer, more reflective and softer.
/\/\ /\ Y /\, a typographic equivalent of M.I.A's legal name Maya, is about her: confrontational, somewhat bawdy, politically aware and concerned about the trends in an internet based society.
/\/\ /\ Y /\ was completely different from what many critics were expecting. Critica reception and a strong media backlash saw /\/\ /\ Y /\ on many worst album lists of 2010.
But M.I.A was not done. She released Vicki Leekx, the title a pun for Wiki Leaks, for free December 31, 2010.
Vicki Leekx featured reworked phrases and ideas found in /\/\ /\ Y /\, previously unreleased and new material. The mixtape a little over thirty minutes long. Though there are pieces of /\/\ /\ Y /\, the mixtape skips over the disjunction of /\/\ /\ Y /\ and the smoothness of Kala, and recaptures the toughness and high energy of Arular.
Vicki Leekx received many favorable reviews from critics and was seen as her final say. M.I.A showed she had not lost the controlled chaos featured in her first two albums and showed that the absolute chaos in /\/\ /\ Y /\ was intentional.
In /\/\ /\ Y /\'s "Story to be Told", M.I.A raps all she ever wanted to do was have her story told. In each album, she tells three different stories. Each story is different and cannot be compared.
When critics were comparing /\/\ /\ Y /\ to Kala or Kala to Arular they were missing the point and M.I.A's message. Vicki Leekx is M.I.A having good, clean, raunchy, fun. She's always known what she was doing and wanted to close 2010, letting everyone know she knew what she was doing too.