“My chain hits my chest when I’m bangin’ on the dashboard.” So brags M.I.A. in a swagger-filled patter on “Bad Girls,” her first full contribution to 2012. Having originally appeared in capsule form on Ms. Arulpragasam’s Vicki Leekx mixtape effort from last year, the official version of the track is sparked by a middle-eastern sounding riff before exploding into a spunky, funky workout. Handled by rap and R&B hit-maker Danja, the production comes off like the warped mash-up of T.I.’s early southern anthem “Rubberband Man” and M.I.A.’s own mega-smash “Paper Planes.” Over Danja’s concoction, M.I.A. invokes the imagery of high-speed cars while repeating a bunch of confident slogans and hollering the defiant refrain, “Live fast die, young bad girls do it well.”
Having been smacked with a barrage personal and musical criticism during the run-up to and release of her last Maya project, “Bad Girls” hits back like a sly answer record, not least when she knowingly raps, “Had a handle on it, my life I broke it/ When I get to where I’m going, gonna have you saying it.” Quirky and catchy, the song heralds the arrival of a reinvigorated M.I.A. So while Nicki Minaj and Azealia Banks might be grabbing the feisty female rap spotlight at the moment, don’t bet against M.I.A. usurping them come the year’s end.
“Bad Girls” is out digitally tomorrow, January 31. According to a recent Tweet, M.I.A. will perform with Madonna at the Super Bowl halftime show this weekend.