Mathangi Arulpragasam better known as M.I.A, is a rapper, director, visual artist, activist, record producer, photographer, fashion designer, and model. You name it and she does it. M.I.A is an acronym for ‘missing in action’, but is she really? Her music is a combination of alternative, dance, electronic, hip-hop, and world music. It’s some of everything out there.
M.I.A started her career as a visual artist, filmmaker, and designer in west London. She wanted to make films and art depicting realism. Her music career launched in 2002-2003. Her first debut album “Arular” was released in 2005. Her second album, “Kala,” released in 2006 was actually recorded outside of the States. Due to visa complications and censorship, the album was recorded in India, Trinidad, Liberia, Jamaica, Australia, and Japan. Everywhere but the states!
Her music gained a lot of attention and popularity due to its rare instruments, electronics, and unusual sound samples. Her music is very distinctive.
M.I.A’s style of music is along the lines of electro, reggae, rhythm. Blues, alternative rock, hip-hop, grime, rap ballads, and Asian Folk. The artist who influences her music is Missy Elliott, Lou Reed, Pixies, Timbaland, Beastie Boys, and London Posse. Speaking of music influences, who is M.I.A a big fan of? Yup, you guessed it, Beyoncé Knowles! Everyone loves a little Queen B!
M.I.A’s stage performance is highly energetic and chaotic. She really puts on a show. Her performance is a sensory overload. M.I.A isn’t anyone new. She is known for including and imagery of political violence into her music videos and cover art.
M.I.A attributes her success to the homelessness and rootlessness she experienced early on in her life. Playing a huge role in politics, M.I.A spoke on various political issues that are still taking place today. She’s always spoken of the government versus the people. From sexism to racism, M.I.A has covered just about all of it. She supports a number of charities, publicly and privately. She helps youth break out of the cycle of violence and poverty.
Now, M.I.A isn’t anyone new! She hasn’t released an album in three years, but she’s back! I suppose she really went missing in action. Her new album AIM (released in 2016), is really hitting the charts. Talk about a comeback! It’s very hype and catchy. Not like the norm, but in a good way!
Listen and tell us what you think!