The Sri-Lankan native rapper M.I.A. has just released her third album, Maya (or ///Y/). This much anticipated release heads in a new direction for M.I.A. and doesn’t boast any features from other artists. After winning a GRAMMY, giving birth to a baby boy and controversial interviews, Maya Arulpragasam is ready to spread her message of socio-political awareness and hope to dance floors world-wide once again.
If you are already familiar with the sound of M.I.A. then you won’t be disappointed with this album as the sounds continue to be an eclectic assortment of exotic percussion, ethereal background sounds and random noises from objects such as a power drill and sirens. All of this perfectly layered on top of heavy bass lines and dance tempos that can keep any party moving. Maya includes production from Blaqstarr, Diplo, Rusko, Switch and M.I.A. herself just to name a few.
While Maya still manages to incorporate M.I.A.’s infamous political themes in some of the songs, this album also shows us a lighter side of the rapper. This is more than likely due to the birth of her first child, a son whom she named Ikyhd. Essentially, Maya, is torn between grime-inspired dark sounds with loud, powerful vocals and soft, ska-inspired melodies that seem very girly and venture a bit into the avant-pop genre (like on ‘XXXO‘); the latter being extremely new territory for M.I.A. to explore. There is even some exploration into Auto-tune territory on the track ‘Tell Me Why‘. In addition, there is definitely more of an overall punk influence with this new album as evidenced on the album’s lead single ‘Born Free‘. Fans of M.I.A. can expect less of the hip-hop influenced rhyme style and catchy hooks (no ‘Paper Planes‘ here) that she is known for.
Overall, this album illustrates much personal and creative growth within M.I.A. and while it may be a great new direction for her, I feel she may lose some of her hip-hop fans on this journey. However, the socio-political messages (when they are there) are still just as powerful and relevant as they appear on her previous albums. M.I.A. definitely has a voice within music that can deliver messages to deaf ears. And that is an accomplishment that not every rapper can boast.
Maya hits stores today, July 13, and was released on N.E.E.K./Interscope records. You can stream the album before you go off and purchase it here!