She may not be flying like paper or getting high like planes anymore, but M.I.A. is still quite fly. Her highly-anticipated new album, /\/\ /\ Y /\ (MAYA), follows after the huge success of her 2007 album "Kala". M.I.A. busted into pop culture with the hit "Paper Planes", which was featured in both "Pineapple Express" and the Academy-Award winning "Slumdog Millionaire". This song had a significant impact on pop music. All of a sudden the sound of gunshots and cash-registers, not exactly radio-friendly, came flooding out of car stereos everywhere. In my memory, it was arguably the most popular song of the summer in 2008. I never thought, when i bought "Kala" back in 2007, that the big hit would have been this particular track. Even those who didn't like the unconventional sound of her music started to pump it through their speakers. In other words, M.I.A. grew on the mainstream.
Her new album,"MAYA", is a bit of a surprise to me. I expected M.I.A. to create an album that was even more radical and rebellious, and often abrasive, than her previous work. M.I.A. is known for the political and social statements she sends through her blend of rap, electronic, and sometimes reggae beats. Don't be mistaken, this album still speaks to the activist artist that she is, but it is also quite...pop at the same time. While tracks (and videos) like "Born Free" ooze with a defiant, rebellious attitude, making it somewhat of an anthem of youth and independence, other tracks like "XXXO" and "Teqkilla" are radio-ready and most likely already hot requests at trendy dance clubs. But as fun and free-spirited as the album is, the theme of the album seems to be the Internet and the way everything is connected through it, and the belief that the government uses this social networking as a "Big Brother" of sorts to track unsuspecting users (the album opens with the lyrics "connected to the google/connected to the government"). In this Facebook and Twitter age, M.I.A. is sending a message that we can have fun and dance to the beat, but we have to be careful about what we do because you never know who may be watching, or Googling, you.