M.I.A.’s last album was 2013’s Matangi, but Mathangi Arulpragasam hasn’t kept quiet. She released an updated track last month, and in November of last year she released “Borders,” a track that questioned everything: borders, identities, politics, boat people — everything. Today, she’s released “Ola,” a song that takes a first person perspective of the border wars.
The song, released on SoundCloud, appears with a caption that reads, “TO ALL MY FLYPIRATES and DJS – THIS IS AN ANNOUNCEMENT !!!! LIVE FROM THE MEXICAN BORDER OLA !!!! MIA ON THE WAVES,” the meaning of which is up for interpretation. “I love u brazil!” is tacked on to the end there, but is less ambiguous.
The song itself is fierce, though, unrelenting in the best possible M.I.A. way. “At the border, I see the patroller/ cruising past in their car/ hiding in my Toyota Corolla/ everybody say ‘yella’,’ she stutter-sings, just before a sample of “The Circle of Life” kicks in. It works better than you’d ever expect, so props to M.I.A. for that triumph of a beat.
The latter part of the track is a separate song, “Foreign Friend,” and, though it’s brief, it hits as hard as the three minutes that come before it. “I’d much rather stay in a hot country/ we come to cold countries because we have to/ but I like it hot,” M.I.A. sings over a chopped beat.
Listen to track below.