The song's meaning is Missing in Action.
When I first heard the M.I.A. Paper Planes track being used in a trailer for the film Pineapple Express, I instantly thought that Hollywood had just botched a perfectly good song, mismatched it, and drained it of all original meaning. That's Hollywood for you.
Originally released in 2007 on M.I.A.'s second album Kala, Paper Planes became one of the favorite tracks among M.I.A. fans, played at underground dance parties, and other non-top 40 music spots. It was a bonafide hit that not many radio stations were playing at the time. The infectious sound, gun shots, and beat make for a great song, and though it features a sample from "Straight to Hell" by The Clash, Paper Planes is a track on to its own.
A fantastic musician and a thought-provoking songwriter, Paper Planes getting paired up with a Stoner comedy? The connection with Pineapple Express will no doubt bring in more sales of the single, and possibly expand M.I.A.'s fan base, but I think listeners are missing the point entirely. All those jumping on the bandwagon of "The Pineapple Express Song," need to do their research. It's easy to just think about the catchy gun shots, but if you listen closely, is this song really about weed?Well, it's times like these that sites like SongMeanings.net come into play. The meaning of Paper Planes is debated among those who are interested in dissecting the track. Word for word. One user even posted a quote, apparently from an interview M.I.A. gave regarding the song:
"I was going to get patties at my local and just thinking that really the worst thing that anyone can say [to someone these days] is some shit like: "What I wanna do is come and get your money." People don't really feel like immigrants or refugees contribute to culture in any way. That they're just leeches that suck from whatever. So in the song I say All I wanna do is [sound of gun shooting and reloading, cash register opening] and take your money. I did it in sound effects. It's up to you how you want to interpret. America is so obsessed with money, I'm sure they'll get it."
I wasn't able to confirm where this quote originally came from, but it makes sense. M.I.A.'s music is thematically about the 1st generation's immigrant experience from the 3rd world. It's funny how the song has been playing in theaters all over North America with the films trailer, and yet when M.I.A. performed Paper Planes on the David Letterman Show, the gunshot sound was censored out, and replaced with some sort of tapping.
To learn more about M.I.A. the artist, watch her on VBS filmed by Spike Jonze HERE
***In addition to this post, also view my thoughts on Slumdog Millionaire, and the films use of Paper Planes, and M.I.A.'s collaboration on the soundtrack.***