M.I.A.’s New Song Samples “The Circle of Life,” Channels Border Life

M.I.A.’s last album was 2013’s Matangi, but Mathangi Arulpragasam hasn’t kept quiet. She released an updated track last month, and in November of last year she released “Borders,” a track that questioned everything: borders, identities, politics, boat people — everything. Today, she’s released “Ola,” a song that takes a first person perspective of the border wars. 

The song, released on SoundCloud, appears with a caption that reads, “TO ALL MY FLYPIRATES and DJS – THIS IS AN ANNOUNCEMENT !!!! LIVE FROM THE MEXICAN BORDER OLA !!!! MIA ON THE WAVES,” the meaning of which is up for interpretation. “I love u brazil!” is tacked on to the end there, but is less ambiguous.

The song itself is fierce, though, unrelenting in the best possible M.I.A. way. “At the border, I see the patroller/ cruising past in their car/ hiding in my Toyota Corolla/ everybody say ‘yella’,’ she stutter-sings, just before a sample of “The Circle of Life” kicks in. It works better than you’d ever expect, so props to M.I.A. for that triumph of a beat.

The latter part of the track is a separate song, “Foreign Friend,” and, though it’s brief, it hits as hard as the three minutes that come before it. “I’d much rather stay in a hot country/ we come to cold countries because we have to/ but I like it hot,” M.I.A. sings over a chopped beat.

Listen to track below.