Supposedly retired M.I.A is back and has lots more to say
It has already been 6 years since M.I.A released her politically charged album, AIM, which tackled head-on some of the most pressing topics of the time, including: Islamophobia, the plight of the Syrian people, immigration and even terrorism. But now, M.I.A has retuned her sharp, analytical mind into a deeper and more spiritual frequency, with new single “The One” – produced by Rex Kudo and T- Minus.
“Tryna find the one, what you’re seekin’ ain’t hidin.’ Tryna find the one, it’s me you keep findin,’ raps M.I.A, soul searching. From the first single, it’s clear that M.I.A wants to take a different approach with her forthcoming album MATA, which is due out later in the year. In an interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music, M.I.A confessed that she “was in a very happy place” upon writing the new single, which is evident in the reflective lyrics.
MATA is shaping up to be one of M.I.A’s most risky albums to date as it flirts with sensitive themes that aren’t familiar in popular culture. “I think there’s a bit of a battle on the record,” she says to Zane Lowe. She continues, “there is a bit of a clash, but the clash is your ego and spirituality. Those are the clashes because, as a musician, you need some ego otherwise you can’t do it. Also, the genre of music that—genres I should say—is all very much like egocentric. It’s not like I’m an artist that came from gospel or something. For me, it was to have that journey and also it was a significant time to discuss like Islamophobia, talking about wars in the Middle East and things like that.”
Born, Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam MBE, M.I.A is one of Britain’s most influential and iconic rappers. M.I.A (Missing In Action), uses her music as a way to comment on themes concerning immigration, globalisation, religion and warfare – mostly in the context of the Arab world and Middle East. M.I.A’s foundation in activism has meant that she has become a role model for many who are struggling with the symptoms of discrimination based on ones heritage, ethnicity and religion.
In M.I.A’s previous work, her Tamil-Sri Lankan and Hindu born parents have been sources of inspiration and pride. A surprise, then, that M.I.A has announced that she has converted to Christianity and is now an out and proud born again Christian. “I had a weird spiritual experience. One of the first people I told was Richard Russell actually. And it was back in 2017. Since then, my head has been in a totally different place,” she said. “It turned my world upside down. I kind of couldn’t let go of the Tamil side. I think that’s why 50% of the record is sort of like that.”
Since 2005, M.I.A has been Britain’s reliable rapper, keeping society on their toes with thought-provoking music. Over the course of her discography, M.I.A has worked through the horrific symptoms of globalisation and late-stage capitalism, and she has made an undeniable impact on popular culture. “The history is, even if it costs me my career, I won’t lie. I will tell the truth and I will tell you what’s on my mind and my heart,” she said, referencing the narratives of the new album. But it seems M.I.A has exhausted her commentary of the on the surface issues, it’s time to address the root causes and, for this, M.I.A is going inward.