Single Review – M.I.A – Freedun

“I’m a swagger man, Rolling in my swagger van, From the people’s republic of Swagistan”- yep. These are the Actual Lyrics. I listened to it 13 times and Googled them, just to be certain I wasn’t hallucinating. But no. Don’t worry. You haven’t passed out and woken up in some alternate universe where all music is Awful. This is genuinely the string of letters and sounds, fusing together to create words, that M.I.A. settled on, for some reason that nobody understands. These are the opening lyrics to M.I.A.’s new single ‘Freedun’ from her latest album ‘AIM’. Swagger man? Swagger van? SWAGISTAN?

I mean, really, M.I.A.? You are literally one of the most accomplished hip-hop artists of your time/all time. You are responsible for ‘Paper Planes’ and ‘Bad Girls’- two of the biggest Bangers in the history of Bangers, possibly even pre-dating the Banger to become the origin of the Banger we know and love today. And this is the best thing you could come up with? Honestly? Those lyrics are so awful I genuinely began to understand why Van Gogh cut his ear off. I had to take a 45 minute break from reviewing this song to sit down with my head between my legs, breathing into a paper bag, thinking of lyrics that are actually good to calm myself down.

However, after calming myself down, I was left with this question- despite the swagger man/van/stan debacle- is this song good? Is it worth braving those first nine seconds of Hell for the rest of this song? The answer is: yes, probably.

While clearly not M.I.A.’s finest offering to date, this track is pretty catchy, captivating and, minus a dodgy lyric about rape, full of those classic M.I.A. witticisms that make her so interesting in the first place. Also, ZAYN’s vocals are, as always, beautiful.

Katie Hayes

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