M.I.A. – Matangi

M.I.A. is an artist who stands up for what she believes and is not going to bow down before anyone. Detractors, racists, Madonna, and those who attacked her after her short Super Bowl half time show appearance are all called out. No shrinking violet this M.I.A. But I wondered as I listened to her latest album Matangi whether we will eventually get tired of all this anger and activism and speaking her mind like we criticize Alanis Morrissette and Taylor Swift for being so confessional with their song lyrics. Where will our watershed mark be for M.I.A.’s brand of music? A question to ponder as her career advances (in many ways). Matangi will remind many listeners of mix tapes that artists release early on before they become big. It is an odd (as in different) move for an established artist to go this way. Odd but refreshing. She is forging her own path and will not do as dictated to. M.I.A. is never going to be a musical act that tows the company line and goes more commercial with her music. She has the talent to do so but refuses to be phony. That does not diminish the quality of what she is doing, however. Right off the hop the Arabic sounding “Bad Girls” is a stunner. I defy anyone to not be swept up in its beats and catchy rap. Part of the appeal of Matangi is the variety within its confines. You’ll get a club anthem followed by a sexy R&B style ditty then something completely futuristic sounding. Contradiction abounds. The secret is to not try and figure out M.I.A. rather to just enjoy what she produces. Definitely one of the strongest albums released in 2013.

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