M.I.A.’s follow-up to 2007’s Kala is one of the most anticipated albums of the year and the Sri Lanakan MC is slowly leaking out more info about the disc. Last night, she unveiled the album’s font-challenged title /\/\/\Y/\ — it spells out her first name, Maya, in slashes — while also announcing that the release date has moved back two weeks, from June 29th to July 13th. To keep fans sated in the meantime, M.I.A. also released a second track from the record, which you can stream over at the seizure-inducing site for her label imprint N.E.E.T.
Judging by the title, “XXXO” sounds like it’d be a glossy, Hot 100 sure-shot. But M.I.A’s latest is as challenging and awesomely out-there as the title of her album /\/\Y/\. On “XXXO,” she teams up with British dubstep producer Rusko for a futuristic, tribal jam that revolves around little more than reverb-dunked marching-band beat and M.I.A.’s tweaked-to-the-max vocals, as if Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” was getting shoved through a paper shredder.
But M.I.A. eases the artiness with lyrics that are perfectly of-the-moment, delivering disses to a lover who’s “tweetin’ me like tweety bird on ya iPhone.” M.I.A. has never sacrificed her art for commercial appeal — her monster single “Paper Planes” is the exception that proves the rule. So you have to admire her for always pushing her sound and art forward. When M.I.A. sings, “You want me be somebody who I’m really not,” she does it with her middle finger raised high, pointing squarely at your face.