M.I.A.’s complicated relationship with hip-hop has always been fascinating: Kala, her last record, was hard on rap (see: the Rick Ross-immolating “Hussel,” or the Timbaland judo-chop “Come Around”), but the genre is clearly her biggest influence and most consistent inspiration. Hip-hop, once it figured out who she was (Nas and Kanye were early advocates), has learned a lot from her too. Jay-Z, to name the most famous rapper in the world, has paid respects to the diminutive firebrand more than once: on a remix of 2008’s “Boyz”; on the Grammy-nominated “Swagga Like Us,” on which Kanye sampled Maya’s voice; and, most recently, on a remix of ///Y/‘s “XXXO,” on which he goes way, way out on a limb and rhymes the title of the song with an out-of-favor term for fashionable young men and women in urban locations.
The word is “metrosexual,” of course, which Jay pronounces with at least one and as many as four extra syllables. The coup of getting him to do this was not lost on M.I.A.
“I was really surprised he liked ‘XXXO,’ actually. And I was really surprised he liked the version that’s on the album, and not Blaqstarr’s version, which is more … sort of urban sounding,” she told MTV News recently. “It was interesting he liked the one with the crazy synths and stuff. It’s more sort of [an] electro vibe … and his verse is so great. It was good to hear him say the word ‘metrosexual.’ ” For “good” here, read something more like “eye-opening”–the kind of thing we maybe always imagined Jay rapping into the mirror, maybe, but never out in public. Leave it to M.I.A. to help break down that wall.
Nor is Jay the only rapper to wander into M.I.A.’s camp recently. Super zeitgeist Queens rapper Nicki Minaj also recently took a track from M.I.A.’s new record for a spin, getting real out there on the already pretty far out there “Tekquilla.”
“Hey yo Maya, your shit is on fire,” she says. “I never ever take ’em to my mattress/I tell ’em, ‘Meet me in the sky,’ that’s my address.” Pretty sure M.I.A. lives right down the street from there, actually.