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CD review: M.I.A.’s ‘Matangi’ skips the politics and focuses on the beat

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Smith Galtney

Two and a half stars

M.I.A. Matangi

Forever whipping up tempests in her social-media teapot, M.I.A. generated quite the “controversy” by obsessively posting about her “clash” with Interscope over this “notoriously long delayed” effort. Don’t Google the details. They’re boring, and they’ll likely cloud your judgment of an otherwise perfectly fine collection. After 2010’s Maya dumped the pop hooks and upped the political paranoia, Matangi is less concerned about art and mostly preoccupied with moving butts. That’s a good thing, of course, since no one does the pan-global, blasé-rapper, bhangra-banger thing better. But a real downer comes at the end of “Come Walk With Me.” She samples herself. It’s always lame when artists sample themselves, but this particular byte—“M.I.A. comin’ back with power-power”—is swiped from 2007’s Kaya, an album that kicked you in the ribcage. This one just sounds really nice while you do the dishes.

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