M.I.A.'s new album Matangi is an inspired jumble, a nonchalant juxtaposition of ideology and hedonism, abrasiveness and vulnerability, Hindu spirituality and technological paranoia, sonic exploration and sentimentality, the Super Bowl bird-flipper and the "Paper Planes" gate-crasher. "Come Walk With Me" is the album's most inspired song, and also the most jumbled.
It's a love song ("Can I be your best friend?"). It's a social-media/surveillance-state song ("There's a thousand ways to track you down"). It's a song about challenging Top 40 lyrical conventions (where Lorde's "Royals" uses the same luxury brand names as the songs it critiques, M.I.A. aserts, "We don't have to throw our hands in the air / Because tonight we ain't actin' like we don't care"). It's the type of song M.I.A.'s label might've had in mind when it supposedly said Matangi was too sunny. It's a song you could play at a wedding if you have the clean "fuss with you" version. It's a song that veers off into a droney section with intentional Mac volume-up sound effects. It has a lyric video telling the story of Krishna.
M.I.A. brought the studio confection to life with the Roots last night (November 7) on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, playing it fairly straight in a rare gig with a band — Maya said the last time she played with one was a few years ago with the Specials on the BBC's Later... With Jools Holland. The Roots' ?uestlove, who did an amazing job as the fox in Ylvis' live "The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)," handles those Apple popping noises on the mic in this excellent, percussive rendition.
M.I.A. also chatted with host Jimmy Fallon, who brought up her Kala song "Jimmy" and discovering her through Arular's "Galang" but thinking she was someone from the '80s he'd missed. M.I.A. told him about the first time she met the Roots, in Japan, in a moment she first compares to a scene with DMX in Belly but then acknowledges had a rather humbling conclusion. Overall, she was witty, charming, and not in the least bit the lightning rod she's often made out to be — which is all the more reason her detractors should go back to the music.
Watch "Come Walk With Me" above and the interview below.