New stuff: “MIA OLA – Foreign Friend”

M.I.A. released a pair of new songs today, and considering one of them contains an uncleared sample from a Disney movie, it’s possible we’re never going to hear them again. So take advantage while you can:

If the song is blocked, Burbank’s lawyers prevailed, and that may not be the worst thing since “MIA OLA” isn’t that good. It paces along with a sub-Saharan sample and callbacks to Maya’s superior works, reminding us that M.I.A.’s most enthralling music was released a decade ago. “Foreign Friend” is a little more promising, if only because hope lies in the mystery. Nonetheless, this isn’t her best work.

But that’s okay! If there’s a silver lining, it’s that her newest releases confirm that her upcoming album Matadatah is going to focus on human migration. We got a taste of this last November when she dropped the badass video “Broader Than A Border:”

And then we got a clearer sense with “Borders…”

…both of which are great.

Her three recent releases should create enough buzz for her forthcoming album, one that’s going to spark heated discussion in relation to Syria’s ongoing refugee crisis. Her first album Arular tackled terrorism from a revolutionary perspective, while her third album M.A.Y.A. warned of government surveillance three years before anyone knew who Edward Snowden was. Say what you want about M.I.A.’s music, but you have to admit that her political foresight is unmatched in the era of instant information. At this point, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect Matadatah to contain the solution to pan-continental immigration.

Despite being 40 years old in a medium where most artists burn out in their twenties, Empress Maya still stands as pop’s spokesperson for the world’s exploited and disenfranchised poor. Her everlasting youth may one day fade, but for now she remains the freshest and worthiest voice on the radio, probably because her fight is a righteous one. Fly Pirates, everyone.

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