M.I.A. - M A Y A


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M.I.A. Podcast

Erin Donaldson discusses M.I.A.'s new album, ///Y/.

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After hearing the first single "Born Free" from M.I.A.'s newest album, I had expected a rap-turned-rock album a la Lil Wayne's Rebirth. Boy was I wrong. The Sri Lankan rapper is notorious for her political themes, particularly regarding third world violence and genocide. Now with M A Y A she has turned her attention to privacy and propaganda and its place in the cyber world. In accordance with this new choice in content, M.I.A. recruited dubstep guru Rusko to co-produce the album along with returning collaborator Switch and her ex-squeeze Diplo on a couple tracks. The album may not be considered dubstep, but reverberating bass lines and jarring noises certainly toe this line from time to time. This complements M.I.A.'s lethargic slurs and paranoid lyrics to create an excitedly claustrophobic experience.

Even from the opening track "Message," M.I.A. gets right to the point, repeating "Armbone connects to the handbone/ Handbone connects to the Internet/ Connected to the Google/ Connected to the government." (Her accusation of Google working with the government is recurring throughout the album.) Then, "Steppin' Up" interrupts with a series of chainsaw noises and distorted vocals that weave in and out of AutoTune (Rusko's doing, no doubt). Like an assault on music itself, the increasingly electronic composure of the album sounds as if it is spinning out of control and staging a coup between man and computer.

M.I.A. has always been a distinct hit or miss with audiences, but M A Y A just might be the breaking point to end the debate. One can only guess at what inspired it perhaps her own recent run-ins with the press. Though a stark contrast from previous efforts, this is her most introspective work. Even the title suggests that this album is M.I.A., body and soul. If you don't love it, you don't love M.I.A.

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