November , 2013
Review by James Rowe
Label: N.E.E.T / Interscope
Oh how we've waited, waited and waited for MIA's 4th album Matangi. After much disagreement with Interscope, her record label, it's finally here. Three and half years from the previous MIA release, self titled 3rd album Maya. We can savor the new sounds of an incredible, provocative genius. Matangi, in keeping with naming albums after family members, blurts out sounds and lyrics which if you didn't no better, you would think MIA comes from another dimension and have a different psyche than the rest of us.
During the absence of new material, the fans have feasted on remixes and collaborations with artists such as Rye Rye and my personal favorite Santigold, featuring Gorilla Zoe on the track 'Get it Up,' which infused tribal chanting with SNES game Street fighter battle cries of characters Ryu & Ken.
I am not going to patronize fans by giving a track by track run down on the album. I just wanted to highlight my favorite tracks and hope to encourage newcomers to buy Matangi. MIA. is going hard on this album. Like a boxer, she will knock you on the canvas. But you better get up or else, you, like the knocked out boxer, will get passed by.
Matangi kicks of with "Karmageddon". My personal favorite of the album. It's 1 minute 37 second long number with a thumping baseline that would pump up and motivate anyone or anything that listen to it. She appears to have the recipe right with Karma coming back around and Armageddon being the end of your world. Lyrics such as. "Some get put in cells, sex fucking sells, know you know the drill, so hear me sound the bell." The text at the end of the track rings true, "Things do change and change can have a range. Systems shouldn't operate by sticking me in a cage".
On the track "Only 1 U," MIA. brings the power. She states, "Just cos the game is up didn't mean I didn't win. I got 3 aces and a King," backed with a Hindu melody in the background. The next verse in the song catches my attention. Lara Croft is soft when it comes to my stuff, she's made up I'M REAL ! I'm a Lady or Rage with a Afro puff. Who else can say the things they feel ! Banging the drum that for all the money and billions in the world there is only 1 U.
'Come Walk With Me' raised your heartbeat and makes you want to dance. With a 21st century message coming through expressed in lyrics. There's a thousand ways to meet you know. There's a thousand ways to track you down. While whatever you've said and done ,There's a thousand ways to make you count. Rapped over a beat that would not have looked out of place on the Soundtrack music to street fighter Character 'Dhalim and his Indian chimes. The song tails off with a air of confidence tinged with arrogance with the lyrics. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger. That's why my paths get longer and longer.
The track 'Bad Girls' has been around for a while. But it still hits hard on the album. 'My chain hits my chest when I'm banging on the dashboard. Get back get down. Pull me closer if you think you can hang. Sounds of screeching cars defying laws that women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia for example. MIA spits out with fire and vigor. Live fast die young, Bad girls do it well'.
The last track I wanted to highlight was "Bring The Noize." This high energy dub step backed track expresses the freedom of choice. She scythes opponents and naysayers down with "Truth is like a rotten tooth. You gotta spit it out." Following on with a change of melody slowed so the message hits home of 'Freedom' just another word choose, Nothing left to loose. The final and 3rd verse is MIA at her best on any album so far. Completely in the flow. She spits at pace 'I'm a party fuckin animal. If you ain't scram. ( Scram being typical colloquial English for Get out of here!).
Like cake with a much too high sugar content, MIA. has me bouncing off the walls. It's like she has embraced Brentwood in L.A, New York City, Sri Lankan heritage and her upbringing in Mitcham, London, molded the power and vibes together and unleashed it to all corners of the world.
MIA, the one time refugee is now playing on a world stage and leading the way. In my opinion, 'Maya Arulpragasam' has not even peaked yet.