Released: February 2008

The dream team of Maya, Diplo and Switch created this anthem; at first listen it was the sound of M.I.A. slightly playing away from her strengths, dumbing down, even; wrapped in the gangsta hip-hop tradition but on subsequent rotation the track revealed itself to be so much more. A twirling chunk of The Clash’ ‘Straight To Hell’ gave the track a lilting sense of wanderlust; lifting MIA’s pan-globalism and making it something universal. No wonder it was co-opted by everyone from Jay-Z to Slumdog Millionarie to Judd Apatow’s Pineapple Express; they could see it for what it was: a very modern hymn of transcendence. (PE)

How I Wrote 'Paper Planes'
MIA

On the song being partly inspired by her problems with immigration officers:
"Yeah, they’re always giving me a hard time. When I wrote it I’d just gotten in to New York after waiting a long time and that’s why I wrote it, just to have a dig. It’s about people driving cabs all day and living in a shitty apartment and appearing really threatening to society. But not being so. Because, by the time you’ve finished working a 20-hour shift, you’re so tired you [just] want to get home to the family. I don’t think immigrants are that threatening to society at all. They’re just happy they’ve survived some war somewhere."

 

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