As the debut of AIM draws closer, M.I.A. has shared one of the album’s most-anticipated tracks: the Zayn Malik-featuring “Freedun.”
Premiered on BBC radio on Thursday, the song tones down the Sri Lanken rapper’s typically bold-faced style, accenting Malik’s soft, auto-tuned coo with singsong rhymes and swirling production.
“I made this song a long time ago, and it was too mainstream sounding for me. If I was going to have a collaboration and have someone like Zayn, this was the perfect song,” she told host Annie Mac. “It sort of takes me out of my comfort zone, and it kind of takes him out of his a little bit as well.”
When M.I.A. revealed the collaboration to EW earlier this month, she said it came about rather organically. “We have the same publishers and they wanted me to demo some songs for Zayn. Before I started writing properly my own stuff [for AIM], I was thinking maybe I’ll write for other people instead,” she explained. “I really wanted to write a song for Zayn….We had a couple people in common. And that’s how it came about. I didn’t really approach him for my own record until later on. First, I thought I wanted to try writing a song for him.”
“Freedun” is the fifth single to come from AIM, following “Borders,” “Foreign Friend,” and the Skrillex-produced “Go Off,” as well as the Diplo-assisted “Bird Song,” which she previously released with production from Blaqstarr. She last put out 2013’s Matangi, and has hinted that AIM might be her last proper project.
“I want to do something else for a bit,” she told EW. “I just feel like I need to spend more periods of time somewhere. When you get into music and you get into a cycle of a record, how life goes, is very fast. You don’t get to just live things out and get involved with communities. I want to spend some time in Greece, make a documentary [there]. Something useful for a bit.”
AIM is due out Sept. 9. Listen to “Freedun” below.