Originally scheduled for release last December, M.I.A.’s fourth LP, Matangi, was then pushed back after Interscope allegedly claimed that it was far too positive to fit in with her ‘public enemy number one’ status. A fidgety, abrasive and exhausting whirlwind of bhangra, hip-hop and electro, the follow-up to 2010’s disappointing Maya initially suggests that the 38-year-old has uncharacteristically caved into her label’s demands. However, occasionally abandoning her usual political rhetoric to extol the virtues of car sex, offer her own unique spin on the YOLO craze and take pot shots at her imitators, the pop provocateur has still managed to sneak in the kind of playful swagger that defined her early career. Never afraid to big herself up, here’s a look at five of her most mischievous boasts.
‘Only 1 U’
The ghost of mid-00s ring-tone irritant Crazy Frog hovers over this senses-assaulting slice of dancehall thanks to a machine gun ‘ding-ding’ hook which may leave you reaching for the aspirin. But it’s another more adventurous computer-generated figure who M.I.A. chooses to assert her authority over on a track which lurches from surprisingly loved-up sentiments to predictions on the global economy to apocalyptic prophecies, while the jiggy expertise of a certain wise-cracking man in black is also called into question: [LISTEN]
One of the few tracks which hints at her new-found spirituality, M.I.A. attempts to put all the ‘gangsters and bangers’ of the world into a trance with the help of a hypnotic mystical chant and a brief reflection on the childhood which saw her earn top of the class status in a country she didn’t even speak the language of, eventually comparing her potency to that of the world’s number one mentholated topical cream: [LISTEN]
Azealia Banks? Santigold? Maybe Lady Gaga again? It’s not exactly clear whose shooting technique M.I.A. is mocking on yet another diatribe against the apparent stream of doppelgangers, copycats and frauds who have emerged in the wake of her success. But despite its nightmarish sound, the title track is much less threatening than Vicki Leekx’s similarly-themed intro as she serves up an inspired dessert-based metaphor before cheekily advising her imitators to create their own manifesto ‘hey presto’: [LISTEN]
Named after Public Enemy’s militant hip-hop classic, M.I.A. once again lends her support to the Wikileaks movement on a harsh blend of tribal drums, stuttering vocal loops and distorted samples. But not before she establishes her spokeswoman credentials with the claims that she’s able to get her message across in the same number of lines as the world’s shortest poem and that her rhymes can change perceptions as effectively as crystal meth: [LISTEN]
One of two explicit digs at Drake to feature on the record, M.I.A. asks why everyone who believes in his ‘You Only Live Once’ philosophy keeps on ‘doing the same shit’ on a pure party tune which very nearly ends up contradicting her point. However, she still finds the time to compare herself to Cuba’s revolutionary former leader, Real Madrid’s star man and Suge Knight’s now-defunct hip-hop label before also revealing her inability to grasp the metric system: [LISTEN]