In the midst of all of the chaos surrounding the ongoing feud between poly-national pop star M.I.A. and New York Times writer Lynn Hirschberg (which spawned a fantastically strange dis track but also appears to have swung in her favor) is the fact that the 34-year-old star has a new album coming out. The new record — essentially called Maya but stylized as /\/\/\Y/\ — is set to drop on July 13 and is already making a splash with the singles “Born Free” (which came accompanied by a brutally violent, controversial video based around a ginger genocide) and “XXXO.” M.I.A. inspires interest from a number of different circles, as her music is eagerly gobbled up by people in the dance, hip-hop and indie worlds, which means the anticipation over new music — only her third album and her first since 2007 — is palpable.
Part of M.I.A.’s charm is her extremely unique visual sense, which has translated to a pair of album covers that have pushed the envelope and expanded horizons in a medium that has almost entirely been forgotten. Her first album, Arular, mixed together various images from graffiti, while her 2007 release Kala wrapped a black-and-white head shot of the singer with a technicolor wonderland that looked like the last transmission from a drugged out planet somewhere in the Day-Glo nebula. The cover for /\/\/\Y/\ just appeared online, and it’s a typically busy, trippy, disorienting piece of art.
There’s one huge element that jumps right out: The fact that M.I.A.’s face is almost entirely obscured by what appear to be YouTube players. Only her eyes are fully peaking out from behind the graphic mess. Does she feel scuttled by the Internet, or is it merely a statement about 21st century privacy? Or is it something else entirely?
What do you think M.I.A.’s new album cover means? Let us know in the comments!