Some of the best hip-hop music of the past year did not come from the usual boys club. Londoner, by way of Sri Lanka, M.I.A. returned with a bracing album, Matangi. Here then, continues an overview of some of the best albums of the past year…

M.I.A. – Matangi

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M.I.A. has been stirring the pot for the better part of the last six years and her most recent and oft-delayed “Matangi” provides a continuation of her unique mix of beats, politics and nimble rhymes. Most of us became acquainted with Ms. Arulpragasam either through the brilliant “Paper Planes” from the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack or the visual spectacle of the very pregnant M.I.A. displaying her “Swagga Like Us” with the likes of Kanye West and Jay-Z at the 2009 Grammy Awards. And who could forget her double middle finger salute that she flashed at the Super Bowl that has her embroiled in a $1.5 lawsuit from the NFL? All of that controversy may have let us forget just how important an artist she has become to the world of hip-hop. M.I.A. brings a beat heavy perspective, a global melting pot that sounds like it could be something from the future.

 ‘Matangi’ is sparse, cold steel… Beats are constantly morphing, and every track chucks handfuls of sonic debris at you … – Gavin Haynes, NME

 M.I.A., “Bring The Noize”

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M.I.A., “Y.A.L.A.”

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