English-Sri Lankan rapper Maya Arulpragasam, otherwise known as M.I.A., is back with as much political furor as ever. Her second release this year, following Matahdatah Scroll 01 “Broader Than a Border”, is a poignant criticism on xenophobia and general modern day paranoia. Questioning the sentiment of everything from ‘breaking the internet’ to inherent privilege, with the echoed hook of ‘what’s up with that?’, Maya does what she does best; deconstructing wrongs with catchy production.
The music video that accompanies the single is standard M.I.A. fare, a casual contender for video of the year. What’s particularly notable is the absence of frequent collaborator Romain Gavras, instead Maya takes the reigns and self-directs. However, Romain’s influence has definitely rubbed off. The ultra-realistic grit is still present with Maya juxtaposing herself against a sea of male refugees. Her taking center stage imbues the video with an eerie quality of helplessness, her strong feminine presence leaves the men looking surprisingly vulnerable. Never one to shy away from pointing out the elephant in the room, Borders is a fitting anthem for an unsure climate.
But the best part of the video might just be her appropriated Fly Emirates jersey. M.I.A.’s forthcoming fifth studio album is entitled Matahdatah, and follows up 2013’s Matangi. The video is dedicated to her uncle Bala.