AIM marks UK hip-hop star M.I.A.’s fifth (and what she has worryingly claimed is her last) studio album. In true style, the London-based artist, who has enjoyed 15 years of a critically and commercially successful career, continues to defy what might be considered the typical idiosyncrasies and stereotypes of the pop-star.
AIM comes three long years after 2013’s ‘Matangi’. This time around, the record utilises a diverse range of features and collaborations, including the return of long-time creative partners Diplo and Skrillex. A particularly mutually-beneficial collaboration comes in the form of “Freedun”, featuring former One Directioner Zayn Malik, earning Malik some much need street cred and introducing M.I.A. to a whole new audience.
AIM isn’t much of a departure from M.I.A.’s previous body of work, retaining her signature and skilful incorporation of vastly varying genres and influences. Also present is the use of World Music beats that has become synonymous with M.I.A.’s musical identity. This is not to say that the London rapper has refused to integrate more modern developments. AIM has a significant, if unexpected, trap presence.
In AIM, M.I.A. successfully blends contemporary sounds with her own unique style. Throughout her career she has always been adept at straddling the line between mainstream and alternative. AIM is no exception. There are some excellent, stand-out moments on this record: “Survivor” and ‘Borders’ being particular highlights.
Unfortunately, several of the tracks fall somewhat flat, feeling repetitive and uninspired. The result is a record that flows relatively well, but is less coherent than previous releases. AIM is an enjoyable listen with the occasional soaring moment. It’s a valuable addition to M.I.A.’s already impressive discography. However, many of the tracks on AIM are ultimately forgettable.
In A Nutshell: For an artist whose career has been so unpredictably fascinating, it would be a shame if AIM truly were M.I.A.’s swansong.