What keeps me listening to M.I.A.? The eclectic mix of beats and sound effects blended together seamlessly? Her cool girl style that inspires others? No, dear readers, I keep listening to her music for the lyrical genius behind each of her songs.
If you don’t listen to M.I.A. normally, why should you start listening now? To listen to a truly original artist in modern society is rare. Mathangi Arulpragasam provides a unique perspective having grown up in Jaffna, a war torn city in Sri Lanka. Being raised among turmoil with a political activist for a father, Mathangi provides a political perspective in her music having lived through conflict herself. Her family relocated to the UK where she went from producing films to creating music that was and still is a breath of fresh air. M.I.A. albums tend to fuse electronic and hip hop sounds.
Much like her past albums, M.I.A.’s new album AIM touches on social norms, political disillusions, personal turmoil, and far more than I can squeeze into a sentence. This new album holds a mostly upbeat, catchy feel to it, but sets itself apart in that the electronic musical elements are much more abstract than her past work. As seen in, “Jump In,” her composition feels jumbled and delivers a truly unique punch.
Many other musicians choose to sample from popular songs or other work, but not M.I.A. This always relevant artist differentiates her sound as opposed many other musicians head in different directions, making their albums more homogeneous to be more palatable to the Top 40 music culture. She goes so far as to critique the mundane nature of societal trends in many of her songs, including several on AIM.
As previously mentioned, AIM feels a bit more electronic heavy than her past work, which is evident in her track “A.M.P.” My personal favorite on this album is “Swords,” a track featuring sword-like sound effects that mocks some modern hip-hop music featuring militant lyrics about girl power. Be sure to give this album a listen, it is truly one of the best abstract pieces of art I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in a while.