Maya Arulpragasam has long been fascinated with borders, a Sri Lankan refugee to London who’s transcended them by recording her albums all over the world. But she’s been more explicit as of late, as the border takes on a deeper and more violent significance; her “Borders” video referenced refugees from places like Syria and Turkey landing on European shores in places like Greece and Italy.
In her new song “Ola,” which she released unexpectedly today on SoundCloud, she specifically discusses La Migra along the U.S.-Mexican border, rapping in her sing-songy, chicken-scratch way: “At the border, I see the patrol-a, quizzin’ past in they car/creepin’ in my socks and slippers, Mexicans say ‘hola.’” Well, you know, it’s not the most advanced rhyming, but for an immigration-referencing pop song, I’ll take it—particularly over a typically genre-traversing beat that pointedly evokes both Panjabi MC’s perennial “Beware of the Boys” and the Lion King’s recently-resurrected “Circle of Life” theme.
“Ola”’s got an outro, too, that MIA’s calling “Foreign Friend,” a drone-y spoken word interlude about hopping fences and staying in tents: “We come to cold countries because we have to,” she says, “but I like it hot.”
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