M.I.A.‘s new record “Mathangi,” the follow-up to 2010′s “MAYA” (officially styled with some obnoxious syntax we’re not going to bother typing out here), was due out April 15. But her label, Interscope, put the kibosh on releasing it because they say it’s “too positive.”
It’s due in April, which is the Tamil new year — April 15th — and I’m still working on it. I thought I’d finished it. I finished it and then I handed the record in, like a couple of months ago … At the moment, I’ve been told it’s too positive. …It’s like ‘We just built you up as the public enemy No. 1 and now you’re coming out with all this positive stuff.’ So we’re having a bit of an issue at the label. They’re like ‘You need to like darken it up a bit’. …I’m taking my time to decide what they mean. …I don’t know what it is but as soon as I work that out [I'll release it].
M.I.A. has sort of earned her reputation as music’s bad-girl—on her las album cycle she flew into a rage against a New York Times reporter when she wasn’t happy with a Times editorial on her and exacted revenge by tweeting the reporter’s cell phone number. And she did flip the bird (oooh, scary) at the Superbowl last year.
Of course, none of that stuff really comes close to what Death Grips did last year when they flipped a much more serious bird at their label by releasing their record for free in advance of the on-sale date with an erect penis on the cover.
So if M.I.A. ever really had any claim to being “public enemy number one,” she’s relinquished it. Maybe that’s part of what’s inspiring her to reinvent herself in a new “positive” direction.
Asked whether renegade artists like herself really rework their records at their labels’ behest, she replied, “Well, that’s the point of being positive.”