When Rolling Stone's Brian Hiatt chatted with global party-starter M.I.A. for our decade-end issue (read his Q&A here), the 34-year-old singer revealed that after five months of work, she was putting finishing touches on her follow-up to Kala, due this summer. She did much of the recording with producer Blaqstarr, who she says "simply makes music that sounds good, and I needed that. I definitely needed to come to music on this album, to make music. I don't want it to be gimmicky or silly or hipstery."
Saying she wants the album to be "honest," M.I.A. admitted the globe-trotting she did recording Kala had a large impact on that album's lyrics as well as sound. "The last album, I didn't actually sit anywhere long enough for it to really be in my life and to really think about it. Now I'm putting out my next album, and the world has changed. I came up talking shit about Bush, and it's great that it's changed, but I don't know how much it's changed, and I'm exploring that.
"I just want to be real, whatever that is," she adds. "Even if my songs are shit, and if I have flaws and if I'm confused, if I offend people or if I don't offend people, I might try to work it out in public, just so you know that it's OK to think, that thinking's not a dirty word."
M.I.A. promises different-sounding beats and both singing and rapping on the as-yet-untitled disc, noting, "I just stopped singing on the last one because I put more emphasis into production, so I was more about making beats and sang less on my last album."
The new tracks include "Fight the Ones That Fight Me" and "I'm Down Like Your Internet Connection," which actually features Filipino Verizon workers singing the hook. "I was having issues with my cable and wireless, and I was on the phone [with tech support] for three hours, and I thought, 'Maybe this needs to be part of my music, could you just learn these lyrics and sing it down the phone to me?' Ten phone calls later, I have Internet that sticks and a song."