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Claire Lobenfeld

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M.I.A. is supposed to be a messenger, but the mission of her music is often obscured by critics’ and listeners’ schismatic view of her work. But before her war with the NFL, her allegiance with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, or those goddamn truffle fries, she was a neon prism at the end of a long musical tunnel dominated by what we’ll call “The Bands.” Along with Dipset and DFA, the rapper, née Matangi “Maya” Arulpragasm, was one of the puzzle pieces that began indie rock’s distance from guitar rock and its constantly-evolving fascination with pastiche. She’s been Diplo’s muse, one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Interesting People, and the only person to ever perform on the Grammys while practically about to give birth. But regardless of an astounding number of accomplishments — she’s the first artist to be nominated for an Oscar, Grammy, Brit Award, and the Mercury Prize, so take that, EGOTs — and her ability to craft some of the most interesting pop music of this century, she continues to confound and propel the public. This has conceivably less to do with her interests and inspirations than it does with the fact that people tend to be unsure how to receive those interests and inspirations, particularly because she is so often painted as a humorless solipsist grasping at “ethnic” straws. In a recent piece for Noisey, writer Ayesha A. Siddiqi nailed the realities behind this struggle:

M.I.A.’s Matangi is out today and along with the religious iconography that is referenced throughout the album, in a recent interview with NPR, the “Bad Girls” rapper has explained that the middle finger she gave at the 2012 Super Bowl halftime show is part of that spiritual expression. When asked why she did it, she explains, “It’s the Matangi mudra… in America you have gang signs, and people throw up initials and stuff like that. Well, 5,000 years ago, there was thing called a mudra, which is your sitting position when you do yoga or you’re meditating or praying or whatever. And you have different ones based on what you’re meditating over. There’s not a lot of them that are named after gods and goddesses, but the middle finger is specifically named Matangi — the Matangi mudra.”

The two tracks we’ve heard from Blood Orange’s upcoming Cupid Deluxe, “You’re Not Good Enough” and the Caroline Polachek-featuring “Chamakay,” both garnered 5 Best Songs nods and today we have a full view of what else from the LP has potential to land on the list. His sophomore album is streaming now and, along with the aforementioned Chairlift cameo, it boasts contributions from Dave Longstreth, Clams Casino, Despot, Samantha Urbani of Friends, Kindness’ Adam Bainbridge, and more. Check it out at iTunes or if you’re based outside of the US you can stream it via YouTube.

Comments

 0Posted on Feb 20th | re: Stereogum SXSW 2014 Day Party Lineup (15 comments)

This is so great! I am sad I won’t be there :(

 +2Posted on Feb 5th | re: Mixtape Of The Week: Pearls Negras Biggie Apple (5 comments)

Yes! Best choice! Also, makes me wish that my Portuguese wasn’t so terrible.

 0Posted on Jan 7th | re: Twin Shadow - "Cupid" (112 Cover) (4 comments)

<3

 +1Posted on Jan 7th | re: Twin Shadow - "Cupid" (112 Cover) (4 comments)

This isn’t THAT bad, but I hate that it happened.

At least it’s not “Only You” or “U Already Know” or “Dance With Me” or “Anywhere” or—NEVER MIND, PROTECT 112 FROM ALL COVERS.

(Hi guys!)

 +13Posted on Nov 15th, 2013 | re: Shut Up, Dude: This Week's Best And Worst Comments (36 comments)

I have been thinking all week I would be #1. I am so sad.

Should I just become part of the commentariat?

 +14Posted on Nov 15th, 2013 | re: Shut Up, Dude: This Week's Best And Worst Comments (36 comments)

I WAS SO CLOSE

 +14Posted on Nov 13th, 2013 | re: Download Death Grips Government Plates (98 comments)

I saw the tweet and I was like, “WILL THERE OR WON’T THERE BE A YEEZUS REFERENCE” and now here we are. HI GUYS!

 +41Posted on Nov 13th, 2013 | re: Download Death Grips Government Plates (98 comments)

You forgot to mention Yeezus :)

 +24Posted on Nov 6th, 2013 | re: The 10 Best M.I.A. Songs (71 comments)

Aw thank you, Raptor Jesus! No going away post from me. This was it and I’m glad you think it’s a good note to bow out with. Always appreciated how much you contribute to the convo here, RJ, and your kind words upon my departure.

 +2Posted on Oct 31st, 2013 | re: Album Of The Week: Sky Ferreira Night Time, My Time (55 comments)

Same!