With the political instability occurring in Syria and other parts of the Middle East, millions of families have been displaced. M.I.A. has most recently taken a stand for refugees, due to her connection to this struggle. M.I.A. herself identifies as a refugee, due to the political instability in Sri Lanka. In her most recent album “AIM”, M.I.A. centered all her tracks about the struggles of refugees to raise awareness, while still maintaining listener engagement.
The soundtrack, opens up to a symphony that places an emphasis on the percussion undertones. As the track slowly progresses through the rhythm becomes more upbeat and more hip-hop oriented. In the opening song “Borders,” M.I.A. raps to lament the forced movement faced by people who have to leave their homes. M.I.A. expresses her frustration with the political systems that are fostering unnecessary violence and brutality. The main verses, “what’s up with that?” are effectively emphasized with a sitar background. Though the song has serious statements and undertones, listeners will still be engaged with M.I.A.’s creative direction.
Many times artists are criticized for the use of autotune, but naturally M.I.A. pulls it off. In “Go Off,” the incorporation of Middle Eastern rhythms with auto-tuned vocals for the chorus mesh quite well. As you listen to the song, you can really hear the sadness and disappointment in her vocals when addressing the displacement many families face. M.I.A. paints a picture in this track that helps listeners visualize this problem. Though, M.I.A. may be vocal about a serious topic, this song still does not fail to be an upbeat hip-hop song. This song could easily be turned into a dance song with these well chosen sounds that make you tap your feet.
In the most critically acclaimed off her most recent album “Freedun,” she collaborates with ZAYN. With the chorus and ZAYN’s backup vocals the track easily turns into a RnB song, but the fast beats still keeps you entertained and engaged with ZAYN’s vocals that guide you through the song.
If you are familiar with any of M.I.A.’s past albums, you know it’s not a complete album unless there is a Bollywood themed song. In “A.M.P.,” the Bollywood sounds easily weave into the song. Naturally, this song encapsulates the energy of Bollywood along with the passion of hip-hop. M.I.A.’s verses are an ode to the connection she has with refugees around the world. This song draws you in and leaves you feeling more energized than ever.
Throughout the rest of her album with “Survivor” to “Swords,” M.I.A. stays consistent with her theme of refugee awareness while creating songs that the general public enjoys and expects from her typically upbeat. Most importantly, throughout her album listeners will not be bored to death with political images of a world that is often hard to conceptualize.
M.I.A. used “AIM” as a platform to broaden the dialogue about the refugee crisis. Even though this album touches on very serious topics, M.I.A successfully portrays them. Her rhythmically pleasing beats as well her collaborations with various rappers from Dexta Daps to ZAYN will keep listeners engaged throughout her album. M.I.A still stays close to her roots as a hip-hop dance artist and the album is sure to be a hit.