By Scarlet Candelario
M.I.A.’s fourth studio album “Matangi” uses a blend of eastern influences, and simple lyricism that effectively delivers a feel of psychedelic social commentary.
The album begins with “Karmageddon.” It’s a mellow track that gives the listener a taste of what to expect for the remainder of the disc.
The artist criticizes just about everything from using sex as a means to sell products, to being promised change time and time again by the government using old promises.
“Warriors” is the fourth track on the album, and beat-wise it takes a darker turn compared to the ones before it. In this song, she talks about struggles and suffering, but being a better person for it.
Following “Warriors” is “Come Walk With Me”. Compared to the previous track, it starts off much calmer, but that quickly changes as it progresses into a dance number that blends current western and traditional eastern influences. She even borrows the Mac volume adjust sound.
If the purpose for the following track, “aTENTion” was to fully grab the audience’s attention, then the extent she went to accomplished this throughout the song. Any word that ends with “-tent,” such as “intent” and “extent” to name a few, gets an extra emphasis by adding an auto-tune effect to it.
The song has references to her experience as a refugee, and how life as an immigrant does not have to make one alienated from anyone else.
The single “Bad Girls” first appeared on her self-released mix tape “Vicki Leekz” in 2010. The song has a heavier feel and has middle-eastern influences that mesh well with the overall R&B feel.
The song presents the topic of female empowerment, which is further emphasized by its accompanying video.
Women in Saudi Arabia are banned from driving and the video for “Bad Girls” was shot in solidarity with the Women to Drive Movement, which hopes to overturn that law.
“Y.A.L.A.”, which stands for “You Always Live Again” can be seen as a response to the “Y.O.L.O.” slogan, which was popularized by Drake. Reincarnation is the theme in this song, and it also questions repeating the same actions if we only get one chance at life.
The album concludes with “Sexodus,” which features The Weekend. It brings a calm vibe at the end which matches “Karmageddon.”
When listened to as a whole, the album goes into a loop, with the songs blending smoothly into each other.
It’s difficult to compare M.IA.’s music to any recording artist today. The sound and songs are unique.
Ever since her first release “Arular” she has always had a style of her own.
Borrowing a line from the third track “Only 1 U”, the phrase “there’s no beat I cannot kill,” represents M.I.A. as an artist through her use of chaotic and far-out beats that somehow works in her favor to produce a wide range of interesting sounds.
Her album was released on November 1st and it is now available in record stores as well as on ITunes.