M.I.A's Bringing the Noize with New Album Matangi | Aesthetically Pleasing

M.I.A's Bringing the Noize with New Album Matangi

It’s been a rough year for M.I.A. The 38-year-old UK rapper was recently sued for $1.5 million by the NFL for her middle finger stunt at the Super Bowl two years ago; she’s been in a constant battle with her record label, Interscope; and her autobiographical documentary was cut before its release. It took nearly seven months of back-and-fourths with industry executives and a threat to leak music on Twitter for MIA’s fourth album, Matangi to be released this Tuesday, November 5 - and it was worth the wait.

Matangi is self-empowering and highly critical; it’s danceable and political; it’s trap music and bhangra music. It’s electronic and oxymoronic- a declaration of MIA’s identity as an outspoken, no-fucks-giving, social activist and artist and resilience through the many people who have tried to stifle her expression.

The lead single “Bring the Noize” (prod. by Switch) which was released in June, is energetic and discombobulated with a slightly off-beat delivery that manages to take shots at haters, wealthy tax evaders, and corrupt diplomats all in one club-worthy package.
“Truth is like a rotten tooth, you gotta spit it out/Let the bottom two, let my wisdom work it out” she boasts throughout the track.

It’s not the only song on the album that raises social commentary and controversy. “aTENTion” is an ode to refugees and the tents they are often forced into on the outskirts of society, the rapper explained in an interview with NPR. “We’re aliens but we’re not muTENT,” she boasts in the song. And as if the subject wasn't controversial enough, she had help developing the concept from her good friend Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks.

Acquaintances like these have made M.I.A unpopular among many worldwide. She talks about her unfriendly relations with the US in the track “Boom Skit.” 

“Brown girl, brown girl, turn your shit down/You know America don't wanna hear your sound”

MIA’s music pushes boundaries, not only in subject matter but in artistry. Songs like “Come With Me” start out with one pace and change direction and style about two minutes in, leaving you wondering if you’re still listening to the same song.

“Double Trouble Bubble” is a genre blending, with a reggae bounce on the chorus that climaxes into a electronic trap beat with a booming bass and Bhangra instrumental.

Tactics like this are executed flawlessly in M.I.A’s hands and with productions from industry notables like Hit Boy and Switch and herself, the beats are trendy and trippy while still maintaining her unique identity.

The name Matangi is an alternate spelling of her government name (Mathangi Arulpragasm) and also is the name of a Hindu goddess of music spoken word and social outcast- very fitting. MIA channeled the deity in her work calling it a “spiritual album.” Songs like “Warrior” begin with chanting, and many songs are heavy with Sri Lankan influences with bhangra breakdowns interweaved into club beats and heavy bass lines.

Due to the albums release date being constantly pushed back, a few tracks seem pretty untimely. “Y.A.L.A” (you always live again) is M.I.A’s rebuttal to Drake’s hit Y.O.L.O which caused a cultural phenomenon that has since died down. And while Bad Girls is one of the most solid tracks on the album, it came out nearly two years ago and has been off the radar for months now.

MIA constantly challenges her audience to think outside of the box weather music, art, or politics. The beautiful mess that is Matangi is solid proof that M.I.A is still M.I.A. The only thing you can compare her to is herself, and four albums later, she is still got it.


What did you think of the album? Do you have a favorite M.I.A track?

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-Anna Son

1 comment:

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