How to Rob, by M.I.A.

M.I.A. triumphantly knocks the hustle that's driving hip-hop's materialist malaise

Music needs constituencies beyond "Forbes 1, 2, 3," see? That "Paper Planes" provides an upward-mobility primer for those below at the expense of those above makes the track a mystifyingly rare commodity in a market where demand for such a thing has never been more sky-high. Look no further than YouTube, where remixes like "M.I.A.— Paper Planes and How to Field Strip an AK-47" mix with the incendiary official one. You don't have to believe that M.I.A. is one of the global poor—or that she has even a passing acquaintance with the violent ordnance that adorns her record covers and choruses— to think she's got the right idea about leveling the playing field. Not to mention the right idea about who her audience consists of—or could consist of, anyway. Bun B, no stranger to the role, speaks for more than himself when he raps: "Being poor is a disease, gotta hustle up a cure/Start with your head, homie, then use your hands/If you try it in reverse, you don't even have a chance." There's Hustlin', and there's Husselin'. How many rappers can claim to do both?

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