M.I.A. Reminds Snide Critics She Was Right About NSA Spying in 2010

Reviewers who blasted “The Message” as a paranoid rant are starting to look pretty naive these days

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Following revelations that the NSA is spying on our phone calls, texts, Google history, Facebook profiles and who knows what else, M.I.A. is taking some time to remind the world she knew it all along.

Back in 2010, her Maya album opener “The Message” linked our hyper-connected online lives to government oversight with the following lyrics: “Your headphones connected to your iPhone / Your iPhone’s connected to the Internet / The Internet’s connected to the Google / The Google’s connected to the Government.”

Numerous critics singled out “The Message” in album reviews, heaping condescending, snide remarks onto the track. Dismissing her claim, smug reviewers called her “paranoid,” “juvenile” and “logically shoddy,” implying she was either a conspiracy kook or just plain stupid (they must have forgotten her “Some people think we’re stupid but we’re not” declaration on Kala).

And although nobody likes a gloater, she’s earned the right rub this in some faces now that the rest of the world has caught up. So M.I.A. took to Tumblr and posted excerpts from particularly nasty attacks of Maya. Ironically, the same writers that blasted “The Message” as naive and out of touch in 2010 now seem exactly that themselves in light of 2013’s NSA surveillance scandal.

Although she doesn’t cite the sources for these quotes, we did a little Googlin’ and uncovered the publications. Here are the most egregious examples of critics who blasted her back in 2010 and now have to eat their own words. Because the Internet, and the government monitoring it, never forgets.

“[‘The Message’ is about as] effective as someone in a dorm room ranting about the CIA inventing AIDS. It’s not the best idea to kick off your politically charged album with a song that demolishes the possibility of addressing a serious issue about privacy with any degree of depth or nuance.” – Pitchfork

“‘The Message’… [is] a nursery rhyme about Big Brother’s digital omnipotence.” – Washington Post

“The combination of would-be narcissism and paranoia…. is dismayingly reminiscent of late-period Public Enemy.” – Uncut

“‘The Message’ is a song that seems to be her paranoid, equally awful version of the The Secret. M.I.A. needs conflict to exist, even if this means living in a ‘Google connects to the government’ delusion.” – Washington Square News (NYU student newspaper)

“Album opener ‘The Message’ is a horribly paranoid rant of information politics and media conspiracy lyrics rambled over a distorted and staccato beat. ‘iPod is connected to the Google is connected to the government.’ Yes, and if you watch The Wizard of Oz while listening to Dark Side of the Moon, they synch up. Woooaaaah.” – Urb

In conclusion, we should probably pay attention to what M.I.A. is saying on the long-delayed Matangi when/if it finally drops. Listen to “The Message” below.

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M.I.A. on Facebook, Google and the Government


“Anybody who is called the government is right. And anybody who isn’t called the government is not right,” she said. “And you know, all governments are connected to Google, and all governments can shift their search engines so only what they want you to see comes up… I want all kids to be aware of this digital circumstance…

“Everyone on the internet is like, ‘Oh my God, come and join Facebook!’ They’re all so optimistic… and really, everyone is fracking you up behind the screens. And I don’t like that. It makes it difficult for me to interact with my fans knowing that. Google and Facebook were developed by the CIA, and when you’re on there, you have to know that.”

— M.I.A.

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