Freedun is a song by the English rapper M.I.A., and is released on her fifth studio album, A.I.M.. The album was released on September 9, 2016. Zayn Malik appears on the track as a featured artist. The single premiered on the Annie Mac BBC Radio One show on 1 September 2016, and was officially released the next day.
The song was co-written by M.I.A., alongside Keisha Hollins and Polow da Don. Production of the song was handled by Polow da Don. M.I.A. initially contacted Zayn via the instant messaging client WhatsApp. Levi Lennox, who produced "Borders" from AIM, also produced Zayn's debut single "Pillowtalk".
M.I.A. told EW, “We have the same publishers and they wanted me to demo some songs for Zayn. Before I started writing properly my own stuff [for A.I.M.], I was thinking maybe I’ll write for other people instead. 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.”
The song has been met with mixed response from music critis. While some gave it favorable reviews, others called it "disappointingly generic" and a "misstep". Nonetheless, New Musical Express and The Independent picked the song as a highlight on the album.
M.I.A. has filmed a music video for the song in the Himalayas in Nepal. During filming, she needed the aid of an oxygen tank because of the lack of oxygen in the mountains. She was also not able to film it with Zayn because he could not leave the USA due to his commitments and she was denied visa to enter the country.
Fans had been left fuming over one particular line that is rapped by M.I.A. In the track, she raps: “I rate that button just to play this song.” The phrase is about hitting the replay button on YouTube, but many devotees misheard the word as “rape” and feared the stars were making light of sexual assault.
Fans have taken to Twitter to criticize Zayn over the song lyric, with one declaring she is “disgusted” with the pop star.
The user tweeted: “M.i.a used the word rape and I’m disgusted zayn agreed to collaborate on that song.. it’s trash anyway. Get him out!”
Another wrote: “Why would zayn agree to collaborate on a song where the word rape is used ew.”
One fan posted: “I can’t believe MIA used the phrase “rape the replay button” on Freedun.
“Mum, u r not in 2009. Get it together. Luv u and Zayn.”
M.I.A. eventually cleared out the controversy by sharing a picture of the lyrics on her official instagram.