Why some people take M.I.A. so seriously, I don’t know. Haters, stans, people who use the word “appropriative”—I’d hope they would all share a laugh when Maya flips off the worldwide audience of the 2012 Super Bowl, invites Julian Assange to Skype from the stage of a concert, or—as she does on her fourth album, Matangi—answers the long kaput YOLO business with “Y.A.L.A.,” or “You Always Live Again,” a song that ends with her explaining, “[and] that’s why they invented karma.”
I’m as entertained, in other words, by Maya’s chaotic and sometimes kooky nonconformity as by her free-trade beats, far-out hooks, and supremely self-aware exploitation of (to Westerners) “exotica.”
And I don’t doubt that the she’s got a sense of humor about it all, either. Unless I’m misreading lines like, “If you’re gonna be me you need a manifesto/If you ain’t got one you better get one presto,” from the new album’s thrumming title track.