Y.A.L.A.

Album: Matangi (2013)
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Songfacts®:

  • This percussive club-thumper from M.I.A's Matangi album finds her taking a pop at Drake's YOLO motto ("you only live once"). The singer prefers the more spiritual YALA, which stands for "You Always Live Again." M.I.A found initial inspiration for the creation of the record after discovering on the internet that her birth name is derived from the Hindu goddess, Matangi, She uses her Hindu background here to counter Judeo-Christian philosophy and point out how Eastern religions believe in a cycle of reincarnation, determined by how you conduct your life.

    "YOLO? I don't even know anymore.
    What that mean though?
    If you only live once, why we keep doing the same s—t?
    Back home, where I come from, we keep being born again and again and again.
    That's why they invented karma."

    M.I.A. explores reincarnation and other religious concepts on Matangi and she admitted to MTV News that it was challenging to communicate spirituality in her songs. "[Reincarnation] is 5,000 years old and it's a bit weird for people," she told MTV News. "At first I didn't know how the concept of Matangi even works in India, in the place where [it originated], so to bring it to the West and be like, 'There's this concept that's a bit weird' was difficult."

    "But if you believe in reincarnation, then there's one way of doing it," she continued, "which Snoop [Lion] did - you can reincarnate your character, or there's reincarnation based on life, so I was playing with both of those things, based on the ability to change."
  • M.I.A. also references Drake on Matangi's title track, when she quips that "we started from the bottom. But Drake gets all the credit."
  • The song's music video was directed by German born, London based photographer Daniel Sannwald, who also did the Mantagi photography. It was described as, "rainbow rave explosions with glow-in-the-dark Matangi goddess Maya."

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