Music, Singles

Track of the Week: M.I.A.’s “Bring the Noize” Exemplifies Her Political Hip-Hop & Soothes ‘Matangi’ Anxiety

Meet Brad Taylor. He’s our newest music contributor, and, significantly, he’s our first contributor to come to us via the wonderful world wide web. We like the internet, and we like new contributors, so if you like writing, be like Brad and shoot us a message. This is also the start of a feature I’m calling Track of the Week, where, you guessed it, each week, one of us will give our thoughts on a hot new track. Here, Brad gives you his thoughts on M.I.A.’s new single “Bring the Noize,” its place in the rapper’s catalog, what it means in the confusion surrounding her new album Matangi, and how it relates to punk rock. – Jack

By Brad Taylor

We’re nearing the third full year since M.I.A. has released an album. Normally, that wouldn’t seem like such a long time, but throughout those three years there have been various teases left in anticipation of her fourth album. It was announced to likely be out in 2012, only to be delayed and delayed and delayed, reportedly because M.I.A.’s product was too positive according to her label, Mercury. She collaborated with Madonna and performed at the Super Bowl along with her middle finger; she announced that her album would be called Matangi and tweeted hints that it would sound like “Paul Simon on acid;” she released the feminist song “Bad Girls,” which brought to light via music video the issue of women not being allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia; and now, a year and a half after the release of “Bad Girls,” she has released the second single from Matangi called “Bring the Noize,” which maybe, hopefully, is a positive sign of how close we are to the release of her new album.

M.I.A.

“Bring the Noize” is in line with the electro-dance-hip-hop-world music that M.I.A. has made throughout her career. One of the reasons why she is such a critically acclaimed artist is due to her talent in combining a number of odd sounds in a way that creates order out of chaos. “Bring the Noize” only proves that further. It begins with a repetitive refrain of “freedom,” which typifies M.I.A.’s well-known penchant for incorporating (often overly simplistic) political statements in her songs. The song progresses to a collision of powering clicks and crescendos, dance-worthy drum beats, and Maya’s signature matter-of-fact vocal delivery. Finally, after about two and a half minutes, the song spends its remaining coda in a softly sung, middle-eastern sounding strain of “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,” which all but calls out by name a particular female musical icon.

The song also features one of M.I.A.’s most effective one-liners, “Truth is like a rotten tooth: you gotta spit it out,” a line dropped a few times in the song that very aptly describes her whole ethos. In many ways, M.I.A. is more punk than most punk artists. Almost everything about her is everything that the punk movement was about. As evidenced by her appearance at the Super Bowl, her music videos for “Born Free” and “Bad Girls,” and her open governmental paranoia (a paranoia that seems rather prophetic now on her song “The Message”), she is not afraid to rebel against whatever authority is standing in her way, whether it be the fat cats at the Super Bowl, the oppressive societal norms found around the world, or the political talking heads of the day. If the rumors regarding her label’s dissatisfaction with the happier sound of the yet unreleased Matangi end up being true, then it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to theorize about her anti-authoritarian intentions in creating an album with a sound that may not have been as controversial as her label hoped.

The fact that she has been reportedly at a crossroads with her label regarding the sound of her album, and the assumption that she is attempting to meet their demands, has made me a little bit worried about Matangi in that I hope the label is not sucking the genuine M.I.A. quality out of it. As a fan, the apparent label dispute has not lowered my anxiety. But now that we’ve heard two official singles from the album, and after concluding that they are both top notch tunes, my anxiety has been lowered just a bit. My hopes for Matangi remain high, but not so high as to welcome inevitable disappointment. But following a couple more weeks of jamming to “Bring the Noize,” we’ll see if I am still able to manage my expectations. Spoiler alert: I won’t be.

Music Video: M.I.A. – “Bring the Noize”

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