By Jeremiah S.
M.I.A. is a study in contrast: She’s a British-Sri Lankan rapper/singer and millionaire freedom fighter that makes pop songs about boys while simultaneously issuing Orwellian warnings about the government’s invasion of privacy and the trampling of freedom, as she eats truffle fries in Beverly Hills. The dichotomy she exhibits is not exclusive to her persona; her music thrives on the appropriation and fusion of disparate genres, plucking fresh underground sounds and grafting them onto her own personal style. Her previous albums have seen her joining Baile Funk, Baltimore Club Music and Dubstep to more traditional Bhangra and eastern elements, which pushed sounds even further into the pop lexicon.
On Matangi, MIA’s 4th album, trap beats become the backbone of MIA’s frenzied bricolage of sound. Not unlike how the internet has accelerated the consumption and distribution of information, MIA’s tracks have become increasingly hypercharged. With every moment so densely packed this album is not easily digestible; there is so much detail crammed into every moment that it feels both chaotic and unruly. However, as you slowly absorb what you are hearing over repeated listens, the album reveals it secrets and rewards your patience, as you grasp new layers of sound and lyrical references.
This is not to say the album is completely inaccessible. The lead single “Bad Girls” is a relatively straightforward rap tune that sounds as fresh now as it did when it debuted back in 2011. “Double Bubble Trouble” keeps things simple and light, which combines reggae, rap and Kuduro. “Exodus” samples The Weeknd and along with it’s coda “Sexodus”, provides an introspective pop moment among the madness.