M.I.A. - "Ola, Foreign Friend" (Singles Going Steady)

by PopMatters Staff

24 March 2016

Leave it to M.I.A. to sample The Lion King and use it in her unique fusion of Asian melodies and Timbaland-influenced hip-hop production.
 

Emmanuel Elone: Leave it to M.I.A. to sample The Lion King and use it in her unique fusion of Asian melodies and Timbaland-influenced hip-hop production. Lyrically, M.I.A. is expanding on her last song “Borders”, this time directly discussing border patrol and Mexican immigration. Sadly, though, that’s the only good things that “Ola, Foreign Friend” has to offer. In the second half of the song, she chops and screws her voice, and the result is as rudimentary and annoying as anyone would expect. Even the synths and rhythm that fill out the song in the first half are surprisingly dry and flat, especially for M.I.A. Overall, “Ola, Foreign Friend” is pretty grating, making it a song more interesting to describe than to hear. [4/10]
  

Pryor Stroud: Featuring a brilliant sample from The Lion King‘s “Circle of Life”, the high-octane, hyper-politicized “MIA OLA” finds M.I.A at her most fearless and lyrically dexterous. “Ola, Foreign Friend”, the second half of this hybrid, two-part track, is equally propulsive, saturated with spit-fire rhymes and intricate, talking-over-itself production. [8/10]

Chris Ingalls: I’ll say this about M.I.A., she’s nothing if not consistent. Asian touches, a stomping beat, snarky vocal style. I kind of wish she would just do something completely out of character for a change, but I don’t know what else she’s capable of. Hey, I like this, if it came on a Spotify playlist in the car, I’d turn it up and hit the gas. But I was hoping for something a little different. [6/10]

Chad Miller: M.I.A. is still relatively clever and occasionally funny with her wordplay, but these songs just don’t hit as hard as most of her offerings. I definitely could have done without that Lion King sample in “Ola”, and the mood it sets at the beginning just doesn’t seem to let up much at all. The song sounds the same nearly the whole way through. Luckily “Foreign Friend” seemed to hit its mark a lot easier, having music that’s much more fitting to match the loaded lyrics. [6/10]

SCORE: 6.00

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