MIA delivers brand new bangers, releasing album Matangi

By: Thalia Yunen

The Hindu goddess Matangi prefers to dwell outside the mainstream.

Sometimes refered to as the “outcast goddess,” she is all-powerful and a facilitator of music, literature, and speech.

Recording artist, actor, director, songwriter and painter M.I.A. allegedly found inspiration for her new album from the Hindu goddess after three years of not releasing a new album.

Ironically, Matangi is only a slight variation of M.I.A.’s real name: Mathangi Arulpragasam, so her latest album is not-quite, but almost self-titled.

The part Sri Lankan, part English artist released her latest album, which includes a version of her single Bad Girls, which sold over 100,000 copies in the US just last year, on Nov. 1.

The album is a brilliant mix of trap, dancehall and techno-infused bhangra music. M.I.A.’s politically-infused raps and seemingly chaotic chants complement the melting pot of sound.

In “Bring the Noize,” the albums lead single, M.I.A. raps, “I’m so tangy, people call me Mathangi, goddess of word, [expletive] imma keep it banging. Truth is like a rotten tooth, you got to spit it out. Let the bottom two, let my wisdom work it out.” M.I.A .was chief songwriter and producer on this album, so it’s probable that most, if not all, of the lyrics on her album reflect her own personal experiences and flare.

In “Boom Skit,” she raps, ““Brown girl, brown girl, turn your ish down, you know America don’t want to hear your sound.” 

Most likely, this is in response to her seemingly racist critics. In a recent interview with NPR, M.I.A. discussed her middle-finger fiasco at Superbowl XL VI.

She explained that it was only a misperception and that it was in fact a spiritual gesture comparable to gang signs thrown up in America, as a sign of belonging. She said, “it’s called the ‘Matangi Mudra,’ you can Google it.”

In the interview, she also describes her affinity for Matangi, the goddess, “She’s basically a goddess of inner thoughts — the outward expression or the outward articulation of inner thoughts. She was really interesting because she lived in the slums; she lived with the untouchables and represented them. So it was really cool to find a goddess that was not considered clean and pure, and was not on a pedestal.”

In the dancehall-infused song “Double Bubble Trouble” M.I.A. sings, “Uh-oh, you’re in trouble, I step in the game and I burst that bubble.” Her ominous, yet light, lyrics remain throughout the entire album. In “aTENTion,” she raps, “My existence is militant, cause my content bangs like it’s potent. Never hesitant, always consistent. Back it up, yeah, I’m very blatant. Don’t try to copy this cause I patent!” Then the beat drops into what sounds like 90’s Uncle Luke hip-hop.

Nov. 3, M.I.A. performed “Come Walk with Me” at the Youtube Music Awards. It is a slower song with what at first seemed like cutesy lyrics that weren’t typical for M.I.A.

“There’s a thousand ways to meet you now, there’s a thousand ways to track you down. There is nothing that can touch me now, you can’t even break me down.” Even her romanticism is tinged with a fierce independence. “Can I be your best friend, can I make it to the end, can you give me some of what you went and gave them?” It starts off as something of a techno-infused doo wop song, and then morphs into trap and dancehall.

Matangi, which is also the title of the album, is sort of like a call to arms. Over a beat that is hard to pinpoint the genre of, and what she describes at Tamil syllables that she learned from school, she says, “Somalia, Bosnia, Cuba, Colombia India, Serbia, Libya, Lebanon, Bali, Mali,” and so on.

Although her seemingly clashing instrumentals on the album shouldn’t go together – they do. Her defiant lyrics coupled with her defiance to stick to one, or even two or three genres of music, go extremely well together.