Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam, better known by her stage name M.I.A., has reiterated in several interviews that the making and release of her newest album, Matangi, was a long and contentious process, emerging among the fallout of custody battles with the father of her child and the NFL. Theoretically, though it is the second album bearing her own name, M.I.A. contends that the title is an ode to the Hindu Matangi- a tantric incarnation of the goddess Maa Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, wisdom, speech, the arts, and music. As she is not a mainstream deity, she is worshiped in unconventional ways- after eating as opposed to before, and with food that has already been tasted. Perhaps this album is M.I.A.'s unconventional form of worship, as it is certainly laden with references to Hinduism. It is peppered with brief clips of rich harmonium and harps in homage to traditional devotional tunes. The album also opens with M.I.A. singing the word "ohm," the word that, in accordance with Hindu lore, created the entire universe. Indeed, M.I.A. carefully crafts her own tumultuous, often cacophonous universe in this album. Her past releases, without sacrificing quality, have been guilty of fragmentation and inconsistency. Matangi is not. It has an oddly uniform sound without becoming boring, and the result is a solid, unclassifiable album that acts as both a return to form and a marked departure for the artist.
This is a deceptively lilting song that sounds slow and inconspicuous but serves its task of introducing an album charged with social commentary as it closes with the warning: "my words are my armor and you're about to meet your karma." At the end of this track, we step full-on into Matangi.
Deeply reminiscent of "Boyz" from her 2007 album Kala, this song has a similar type of beat- the one you feel in your chest, that grabs you by the ear and drags you to the dance floor. The song also features one of the best lyrics from the album: "If you're gonna be me you need a manifesto. If you ain't got one you better get one, presto." The song then escalates, growing faster and louder until its grip is unnerving, finally slowing down in the last few seconds of the song to close out the tune.
A crass Jersey Girl and a grammar enthusiast, I love to travel, sleep, and most importantly, gush, review, and speculate about the things that I love the most (in no order: music, Doctor Who, the X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Bollywood). I've written for UInterview, i.d.e.a.l. Magazine, and the Courier, Newcastle University's award-winning student run newspaper.