Matangi - INTERSCOPE
FILTER Grade: 84%
By Ken Scrudato on November 6, 2013
It bears repeating that if the media cognoscenti hate you, you’re doing something right. That MIA was also pilloried for something so stupendously banal as flipping off the Super Bowl only proves she is a virtual virtuoso at excavating hypocrisy. Her new album is titled Matangi, after—a little predictably—the tantric goddess of music and learning, but curiously enough, it’s also her proper given name. Rumor had it the label delayed it for being “too positive.” But the lightning, gothic-noir opener “Karmageddon” finds her straightaway railing, “Systems shouldn’t operate by putting me in a cage”; of course, that is precisely how “systems” operate. But on the following and title track, her vitriolic wordsmithing is at peak perspicacity: “If you’re gonna be me, you need a manifesto/If you ain’t got one, you betta get one, presto.” Dis Kapital! Yet the cage of her own making might be the excessive immersion in Hindu imagery. Matangi can feel a little trippy-dippy—we miss the “give war a chance” Maya. Still, this is musically monumentally freako shit. Machine-gun beats, wildly fragmented rhythms, spooky dub atmospherics, cinematic sweeps that would likely awe Morricone himself (check out “Exodus” featuring The Weeknd)—and even unexpected blasts of quasi-metal. Oh, and as for that whole “positivity” thing? Detractors should be warned that the goddess Matangi is often pictured carrying a noose, sword and shield. Bring it on, then.