THE GRADE B+
BOTTOM LINE The Sri Lankan rapper quickly moves from “Bird Song” to her potential swan song.
M.I.A. says her fifth album, “AIM” (Interscope), will be her final one, though she does plan on recording more music, among other creative pursuits.
Most see it as an exaggerated prediction coming from a 41-year-old prone to controversial pronouncements. However, the album’s anthemic final track “Survivor” sure sounds like a great closing argument for this chapter of her career, delivered over a shimmering synth and a spare beat. “It starts when you’re ready,” she begins, seemingly starting her slow walk away. However, she won’t go quietly, saying, “Trying not to remember my time in the fire, ’cause I ain’t gonna tell ya this war is ever over.”
On the new song “Visa,” where she sings from the point of view of both a superstar rapper and someone trying to evade border patrol, M.I.A. takes the beat from her breakthrough single “Galang” and loads it with even more lyrical depth. It’s another sign of closure, since the rest of “AIM” is packed with bold, inventive new beats from collaborations from Blaqstarr and Skrillex on brash singles like “Go Off” and “Bird Song.”