Borders, what's up with that?

Borders, what's up with that?

M.I.A is no stranger to controversy and voicing her opinions on world politics with her trademark fiery tongue, she’s unapologetic when voicing things which resonate with her even if many don’t agree.  One such example of this is a fracas with New York Times reporter Lynn Hirschberg (the woman who wrote the infamous Vanity Fair cover story on Courtney Love back in 1992) over the singer’s views on the political landscape and the artist’s own roots in the depths of the Sri Lankan Civil War: an issue the singer feels deeply passionately about.

During the Sri Lankan Civil War M.I.A and her family were displaced and found themselves living in “big-time” poverty and on the run from the Sri Lankan army which has left a lasting impression on the lyrical musings of the 40 year old singer now living in Los Angeles. With the events in Syria unfolding over the past few months and the influx of refugees into neighbouring countries it’s no surprise that M.I.A is having her say in her striking new video “Borders”.

The self-directed video sees M.I.A amongst hundreds of male migrants in arid landscapes from border control fences to beaches and at sea. As she is lying with them in solidarity on ships packed to the rafters the tension is palpable resembling an army of broken soldiers which could explain the lack of women and children. But with compelling images like this it’s not tough to establish a meaning within them.

There really is no one in contemporary pop music that is willing to speak about such issues because let’s face it: there is no one brave enough to stick their necks out in an industry where cutesy bubblegum boy bands and records about anacondas *cough* rule the roost. Money talks and it’s pretty hard to sell this narrative to teens that are still finding it hard to engage into politics through Conservative rule.

Lyrically her approach is simplistic and sharp “Your freedom/what’s up with that/ Your power what’s up with that’’ words which ring true for many universally, who believe that borders should not equate to the quality of the human. You could even say, she’s the voice for all of us and especially, those which are too scared to say so.

But there is a slight problem with the video itself and it comes in the form of the singers deal for the video with Apple Music. Maybe this is just me being pedantic but signing exclusivity deals surely limits the audience of something as provocative and powerful as this and even cheapens, what could have been a real message. She can say “fuck the system” all she like but to a degree, it looks like she doesn’t mind the system.

Written by,

Daniel Cooke

Music Editor

Video credit: M.I.A via YouTube