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.

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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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