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M.I.A. - Matangi Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 8.5
Musicianship 8.5
Lyrics 8.5
Production 8.5
Creativity 8.5
Lasting Value 8.5
Reviewer Tilt 8.5
Final Verdict: 85%
Member Ratings
Vocals 5.58
Musicianship 5.58
Lyrics 5.58
Production 5.58
Creativity 5.58
Lasting Value 5.58
Reviewer Tilt 5.58
Average: 56%
Inside AP.net

M.I.A. - Matangi

Reviewed by: Jake Jenkins (11/06/13)
M.I.A. - Matangi
Release Date: November 5, 2013
Record Label: Interscope


For the entire duration of her career, M.I.A. has been splitting people into two sides; those who love her and those who hate her. There's very little in between, but there can be a lot of switching from one to the other. If I were to take a guess, I would say that a fair number of people went from the "love" group to the "hate" group following 2010's confused and confusing / \ / \ / \ Y / \. Which is understandable, but would later prove to be quite foolish as her single "Bad Girls" in 2012 converted nearly everybody and then some back. After a bit of time, though, it became apparent that M.I.A.'s fourth album Matangi wasn't going to be released when promised, originally at the end of 2012, which is always frustrating for fans. It would continue to be pushed back until M.I.A. threatened to leak the album herself, causing Interscope to settle on a release date of November 5th.

Apparently, one of the problems Interscope had with the album was that it sounds "too positive." That's a bit misleading, and even M.I.A. said that she didn't really know what they meant by that. Matangi is definitely filled with some songs with a positive outlook and colorful production, but a lot of the songs have an undeniable edge and snarl that play into this persona built around her of being a strong woman that simply doesn't give a fuck. On "Warriors," she raps with more bite and purpose than a lot of male rappers out there today, and on "Bring The Noize" she goes so far as to say the words "please get off my dick." She's as ruthless and self-assured as ever here, and that even shines through on the songs that might be categorized as "positive." "Y.A.L.A.," for instance, pokes fun at the YOLO culture of today but still packs just as much punch as any other song on here despite its bright melodies and playful tendencies.

A lot of songs on the album, though, are dark. At the very least, there's a sinister undertone to a lot of the tracks. "Karmageddon" kicks things off rather slowly with a massive bass that trudges along under M.I.A.'s subdued singing. It kind of throws you off, because it has a pretty short duration time and not much really changes throughout that length, but a lot of the songs on the album are in a constant state of change, hardly ever ending in the same way they started. Even the title track, which is oddly reminiscent of Kala cut "Boyz," doesn't stay consistent throughout even though it may appear to upon first listen. But halfway through, a massive 808 kick enters the mix, subtly but effectively shifting the tone of the song to something with more bombast. Elsewhere, songs take left-turns with little to no warning, like on "Double Bubble Trouble," where it starts as a dub song that quickly builds into massive EDM-trap, and by the end the beat speeds up considerably into the kind of noisy, bass heavy dance music with eastern influence that M.I.A. has become known for.

Matangi, like all M.I.A. albums, can be a little offputting. This thing is loud. There are multiple points throughout the album where it sounds like your speakers might tear open at any second, like on "Bring The Noize" and "Come Walk With Me." There are other moments, like on "aTENTion," where the many effects and production flourishes thrown into the mix become overkill (it also doesn't help the repetition of the word "tent" becomes tired less than a minute in). That song is one of the only low points on the album, but there are a few other nit-picky flaws here and there. The Weeknd sampling "Exodus" is nice enough the first time around, but revisiting the same sample for what is more or less the same song for album closer "Sexodus" is not the least bit rewarding. M.I.A.'s lyrics are mostly on-point, with her delivery being the real selling point behind her politically charged words. There are a few lyrical blunders though, with a directionless Drake diss and pretty much all of the aforementioned "aTENTion" coming to mind, but those are easy to overlook when the best parts of the album offer ear-wormy hooks that will undoubtedly get stuck in your head ("Chain hits my chest when I'm banging on the dashboard").

How many albums does it take for an artist to bounce back after releasing what will be widely considered the low-point of their career? For M.I.A., that number is one, and with every subsequent listen of Matangi it becomes harder and harder to remember why we ever doubted her. Matangi can be looked at as a return to form, but it's more fitting to think of it as a "getting back on track" kind of record. There are obvious progressions in sound and direction here, but at the core of it all M.I.A. has given us what we love about M.I.A.: an erratic mixture of hip-hop, dance, pop, and world music that carries a "fuck you" attitude.

8.5/10
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 21.
07:07 AM on 11/07/13
#2
FUCKDIRTYWIPES
Kicking it middle school
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Great review. This album is just fantastic.
10:16 AM on 11/07/13
#3
projectmayhem16
keep cool but care
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<3 such a great fucking album. Nice review, Jakey poo.
10:17 AM on 11/07/13
#4
Jake Jenkins
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Great review. This album is just fantastic.

<3 such a great fucking album. Nice review, Jakey poo.

thanks, guys! what are y'alls favorite tracks from this thing?
10:20 AM on 11/07/13
#5
projectmayhem16
keep cool but care
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I like aTEnTion though, a lot actually, the only low points on the album for me are Exodus and Sexodus.
10:21 AM on 11/07/13
#6
Jake Jenkins
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atention is an interesting concept but she just kind of beats you over the head with it to the point where it becomes incredibly grating really quickly. the non-vocal parts/dance breakdowns are very good though.
10:22 AM on 11/07/13
#7
projectmayhem16
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thanks, guys! what are y'alls favorite tracks from this thing?
Warriors is my fave, then Matangi; from there it's a little harder to choose, but I'd go with Bring the Noize & Double Bubble Trouble, then Y.A.L.A.
10:23 AM on 11/07/13
#8
Jake Jenkins
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Warriors is my fave, then Matangi; from there it's a little harder to choose, but I'd go with Bring the Noize & Double Bubble Trouble, then Y.A.L.A.
bad girls is definitely my number 1 favorite song (and high on my list for songs of the decade so far honestly) but the rest blur so much. all the ones you mentioned are up there for sure
10:23 AM on 11/07/13
#9
projectmayhem16
keep cool but care
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atention is an interesting concept but she just kind of beats you over the head with it to the point where it becomes incredibly grating really quickly. the non-vocal parts/dance breakdowns are very good though.
I see that, it's one that I play less than others though for exactly that reason: I don't want to hate it.
10:33 AM on 11/07/13
Who Is Ryan?
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Good job
10:49 AM on 11/07/13
FUCKDIRTYWIPES
Kicking it middle school
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thanks, guys! what are y'alls favorite tracks from this thing?
I think I have listened to Warriors and Exodus/Sexodus like 100 times already, but I love them all. What about yours?
10:50 AM on 11/07/13
WeltallAY
Je suis l'Alpha et l'Oméga
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One of the few hip/hop/rap acts I love, interested in getting this. I personally enjoyed MAYA quite a bit after being initially put off.
12:08 PM on 11/07/13
Jake Jenkins
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I think I have listened to Warriors and Exodus/Sexodus like 100 times already, but I love them all. What about yours?
"bad girls" and "warriors" and "bring the noize" probably top 3
12:23 PM on 11/07/13
TheDemosRock
What's a fuckass?
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Encouraging!
I cna't wait to loisten to this
12:24 PM on 11/07/13
j4callen
ummm
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Very cool album. This hit me sort of similarly to how Yezzus did. Some songs are a bit much, but the overall vibe and originality in the production and song structure are refreshing and worthy of repeated listens.
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