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M.I.A. and the USB Jewelry Revolution

M.I.A.'s USB necklace

When M.I.A.’s “Bad Girls” remixes drop in the corporeal world, they’ll exist paradoxically in the tactical ether: on USB necklaces that look like a gilded Beamer ignition key. For $50, you can cop the late-’80s rap look in the new millennium — repping Maya, adbusting, cyber-reality, and feckless stunt-driving all at the same time. It’s a good look for downtown-ing any ensemble, and the remixes are accompanied by behind-the-scenes footage and a special .gif.

But M.I.A.’s simply the latest (and slickest) in a USB necklace/music merch trend. Last month, web-savvy DJ and cyberjammer Teen Witch dropped a series of limited-edition, handpainted, pink-and-purple USB pendants (on clear PVC rope!) for $16.99, with a copy of his latest mix, “Banned from MTV,” as well as HD wallpapers and “surprises.” While not as glitzy as the “Bad Girls” USB, its colorway is on point with Teen Witch’s DIY-does-SIMS aesthetic, and at the very least throws back to the ’80s Cali-girl film from which he takes his name.

For a more functional take, U.K. label VIBES has collaborated with Alex Kazemi (music editor of crucial Brit teen magazine Super Super) for a blank, 4GB USB necklace, drawing from VIBES’ latest Goa-influenced HAMSA pattern to suggest your precious files could use spiritual protection. That one retails for £10, and the company is touting its blankness as a plus: that on it you can keep your own secrets, a diary-as-accessory. Meanwhile, dance music-inspired line Jojo Electro is hawking an 8GB USB dogtag. All of which are an ingenious take on fashion-as-function, as we transition further into better living through circuitry. We’ve seen USB accessories from Hermes (8GB USB Cuff Bracelet, $855) and lower-end variations on all of the above, but since fashion-week-fave M.I.A.’s entered the fray, we can expect further high-fashion takes on this in the coming seasons.