Always a controversial figure, M.I.A.’s latest LP, “Matangi” (titled after her birth name and the Hindu goddess of music) sees Maya Arulpragasam at her most insightful and exciting moments.
It becomes clear on the first track, 'Karmageddon' that this is really a record only M.I.A. could make. The title, the swirling and erratic bass, the deceivingly simple but calculated nature of her lyrics, ending the track with the sassy line “my words are my armour and you’re about to meet your karma.” It reminds you, right from the beginning of this album, that M.I.A. is one outspoken lady but it’s hard to not want to hear what she has to say.
Indeed, she’s certainly made some contentious statements in the past on her music. Her last album opened with the statement "connected to the Google, connected to the government," which many critics slammed as being juvenile back in 2010, but M.I.A. has certainly been vindicated now. Therefore, one can suspect that people will pay just that little bit more attention to whatever Arulpragasam might have to say here.
But M.I.A. never outstays her welcome. She never comes off as arrogant or as someone who has opinions for the sake of having an opinion.
More importantly however, she’s truly missing in action; you can’t peg her down. There are the smoother moments on the record, such as the closing track 'Sexodus' featuring a soulful guest spot from The Weeknd and the quicker, relatively less fierce track 'Boom (Skit)' which mocks her ignorant, slightly racist critics.
The sense of urgency contained on her urban call-to-arms, Bring The Noize is certainly a standout moment along with the already anthemic 'Bad Girls'. But it’s things such as mixing trap and reggae on 'Double Bubble Trouble' and sampling the sound made when you increase the volume of a Mac computer on 'Come Walk With Me' that you really appreciate what M.I.A. has created. It’s things like this that sets her apart from the crowd. Matangi confirms M.I.A.’s status as one of the most exciting and influential artists of the last twenty years.