One day after M.I.A. teased the possibility of new material on Instagram, posting new artwork with the word “Borders” at the bottom, the singer premiered the track on Friday via Spotify.
“Borders” is believed to be part of M.I.A.’s in-the-works Matahdatah album, her fifth studio effort and follow-up to 2013’s Matangi. As for how the new album will differ from its predecessor, M.I.A. said, “The concept for this LP is ‘broader then a border’ and Matahdatah is the journal of Matangi. Sometimes I move vertical and sometimes I move horizontal.”
The mid-tempo “Borders” features a skittering beat and hypnotic rhythm, with an instantly catchy refrain. Throughout, M.I.A. raps about privilege, power, freedom and guns.
In July, M.I.A. premiered “Matahdatah Scroll 01 Broader Than a Border,” a five-minute audio-visual project that featured the Matangi track “Warriors” as well as a new song, “Swords.” The video, filmed by M.I.A. in India and West Africa, showed different forms of dance in these regions — including a group of young girls making music by swirling metal poles like swords — juxtaposed with footage of the rapper lighting an Om symbol outside an Indian temple.
“‘Warriors’ was shot in Cote d’Ivoire with a guy I saw in a YouTube video doing the most incredible dancing,” she explained of the video. “I tracked down that exact guy, flew out there and played him the ‘Warriors’ track. He did his thing for me. He is a spiritual warrior and communicates through dancing. It’s a lifelong commitment for him to be the designated spiritual body that channels that dance.”