English electro-pop perfectionist M.I.A. has been dropping breadcrumbs for hungry fans since her last album, AIM, was released in 2016. Following an NFT auction for charity in 2021, she cheekily announced that her forthcoming album MATA was in the works, describing it as a way “to reflect who I am, what we want to build.” Patience is key, and M.I.A. has returned not only with a new single, but with the reassurance that MATA is on the way.
M.I.A. leans into the bubbly electronic pop that she helped pave the way for on “The One.” Prickly trap-influenced production and autotuned vocals reflect the rapper’s forward-thinking approach to technology and trends that she’s been analyzing and subverting since the beginning of her incredible career.
In an interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1, M.I.A elaborates on the song’s interesting direction:
I was in a really happy place. And I know that it was the pandemic, and kind of everything was hitting the fan, but I’d got to a place that was really happy. I did want to make that nice, happy record. Almost like the record that everyone wanted you to make when you made “Paper Planes.”. . .I guess it is just about sticking to what you are and the truth. I think, at the end of the day, that is also what this record is about to me, is still trying to find truth.
In the same interview, she also gives some background on MATA:
I think there’s a bit of a battle on the record. That there is a bit of a clash, but the clash is like your ego and spirituality. Those are the clashes. Because as a musician, you need some ego, otherwise you can’t do it. Also, the genre of music that, genres I should say, is all very much egocentric. It’s not like I’m an artist that came through gospel or something. For me, it was to have that journey, and also, it was a significant time to discuss like Islamophobia…talking about wars in the Middle East, and things like that.
Below, listen to “The One,” which you can also stream on your preferred platform here. Keep an eye out for more M.I.A. news, such as the release date of MATA on Paste.