I hope I am wrong here but many of the people reading this article about M.I.A. might be thinking to themselves “ah the Paper Planes chick.” Well yes, that is her, but would you believe it, she has released ALOT more songs that are just as good if not better. She is multi-talented, and is also a badass woman. She performed at the 2008 Grammys like 9 months pregnant. That kid was ready to pop out and join her mum on stage, but she carried on MC-ing. She is badass, or how the Brits would say proper cool.
I was late to discover MIA. I found her on Timbalands album Shock Value on the track Come Around, an awesome track for an average album, they work well together. But that was in 2007, where I discovered her album Kaya was being released the same year. Little did I know that MIA had been around for alot longer. So here is an insight into her background.
She is of Sri Lankan descent, and is very artistic. She graduated from the prestigious art college St Martins in London with a degree with art and film. But it wasn’t an easy upbringing for her. She moved to Sri Lanka with her family at a young age beforehand as her father was in the midst of the civil war in the 80s. From relocating around Asia, and having limited visits from her Dad, she eventually moved back to South London where her Mother and siblings were housed as refugees. She lived in Mitcham Council Estate where she started to learn English. If you hear some of her lyrics she talks about how she had to Hustle, and grind her way through the slums. Despite her fame, MIA still loves to visit Ghettos around the globe.
She has had her artwork exhibited in Portobello Road London in the past. Her early work consisted of graffiti art work and spray painted canvasses mixing Sri Lankan Tamil Political street art and with images of London Life and consumerist culture. She has also done short films which have been acclaimed in the underground art/short film world in London.
She was asked to do the Artwork for a Band name Elastica. She also followed the band across America documenting the tour on video, and then directing a music video for them. A support act named Peaches, introduced MIA to a sequencing drum machine and told her to follow her artistic integrity into music. With a simple set up, MIA devised her up 6 songs for a demo-tape (one of them included the soon to be big hit Galang).
Her music has been described as a mixture of Dancehall, electronic, jungle, and world music. She was in fact placed in TIME magazines top 100 most influential people for having global influence across so many genres.
When she eventually signed to XL Records, she began world on her first album Arular (named after her father). MIA was already popular through the internet, night clubs, and established herself in the underground world. Her first album was a huge success, with Galang, Bucky Done Gun, and Sunshowers being the most notable.
She came back with an absolute bang in 2007 with Kala (named after her father). On this record she teamed up with Timbaland on Come Around, did a remix of a famous Bollywood/Indian track with “Jimmy,” keeps up her ghetto image with Hustle ft Afrikan Boy, and of course, her biggest record to date, Paper Planes.
Paper Planes was absolutely huge. It hit its peak commercially when it featured in the trailer for the movie Pineapple Express. She then featured in the track Swagga Like Us (sample from Paper Planes) which featured Jay-Z, Kanye West, T.I. and Lil Wayne. She has not only established herself in the underground world of dancehall and electro, but she has proven that she can even be described as a rapper and top mc. She is a legend in my opinion. I cant wait for her to work on a new album. Check out her music, let me know what you think.