Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Album review - "Matangi" by M.I.A.

It’s kind of been the thing lately for female artists to take on an I Am Sasha Fierce attitude towards their work. Lorde is outspoken, Miley rouses media outrage, Iggy Azalea swears like there’s no tomorrow and fellow rapper Azaelia Banks…well we can’t say that she hasn’t enjoyed getting her diva on.

Similarly, M.I.A. is back to confront the haters on Matangi. When she raps, “systems shouldn’t operate by sticking me in a cage” she really means it – having created an expressive album with so many references that is difficult to describe.

The album opens with one big Om, before plunging straight into heavy bass, profiling the spirit of the album: Matangi as the Hindu goddess of speech, music, knowledge and the arts.

Maya’s voice becomes a rhythmic instrument where she almost whispers on “Karmageddon” and then later chops up her own vocals on tracks such as “Bring the Noize.”

The album picks up new influences, with trap elements on second track “Matangi” and Major Lazer-style dancehall beats on “Double Bubble Trouble.” Matangi also interweaves distorted sitar and animal roars into R&B song craft and reggae percussion.

All of which means that M.I.A. pull diverse references from the past two years: “Eat, pray, love/ Spend time in the Ashram / or I’ll drone you /Kony 2012.” Ultimately, Matangi is not only futuristic in its sound but also in her signature messenger-style lyricism.

And just when you think it’s deepening into the calm and spiritual, M.I.A. breaks down the sound again bhangra-style (Punjab Indian).

There are two tracks where she collaborated with The Weeknd – “Exodus” and “Sexodus” – which are less frenetic tracks but with Kanye-style introspection: “My blood type is no negative/But I’m too positive that I’m too deep.”

“YALA” is one of my favourites off the album (you only live always), as a response to YOLO – loud and full of attitude. But “Bad Girls” is still the strongest song off the album as the middle-finger anthem following her 2012 halftime stunt.

Published on adamNOTeve.

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