Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam

Hello people! Sorry for going M.I.A for a while.  Well im back this time with another Pop star, Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam, better known by her stage name  M.I.A., is a British songwriter, record producer, singer, rapper, fashion designer, visual artist, political activist, and artist.  “Paper Planes” the above track, became a chart favourite in 2008. She has been nominated for two Grammy Awards and an Academy Award.

Her compositions have been noted to encompass various genres, often with political lyricism and artwork. M.I.A. has described her music style as being “other”. In addition to her work as a graphic designer, providing artwork and photography for releases and as a director of music videos, she has also experimented with documentary film and in 2008 released a collection of her fashion designs. She is the founder of the record label N.E.E.T.

Politics and global ideas are prominent in M.I.A.’s art. On the political nature of her work she said, “I have to be true to that–I can’t take certain things away. I do have a political background. I’m only in England, learning this language and building a life in this society, because of political reasons. Why would I deny that?” M.I.A. has talked about the fusion of politics into her music. “Nobody wants to be dancing to political songs. Every bit of music out there that’s making it into the mainstream is really about nothing. I wanted to see if I could write songs about something important and make it sound like nothing. And it kind of worked.”

M.I.A. has set up school-building projects in Liberia since 2006. In 2006, she met President of Liberia Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, rehabilitated ex-child soldiers. Recently  M.I.A. had stated she and her child had received death threats from members of the Sinhalese community in the U.S., and were being watched by the Sri Lankan Government. She and her family still face travel difficulties in and out of America. In turn, the Sinahalese members who gave the death threats are being watched closely by the United States Government.

M.I.A.’s controversial video for “Born Free”, directed by Romain Gavras, features nudity, graphic violence and a plot where redheaded adolescents are rounded up into an armour-protected van, driven to the country and either shot or made to run through a minefield. YouTube removed the video in some instances and placed an age restriction on its viewing elsewhere. The 12 year-old child Ian Hamrick, whose character in the film dies after being shot in the head described the video as “highlighting violence in order to end violence.” During the video a mural is seen with armed red haired men and the slogan “Our day will come”, which is the historic slogan of the Irish Republican Army.

In response to censorship of her work throughout her career, M.I.A. said “The Third World deserves freedom of speech just like everyone else. We want to fight the battle to say what we want, whether to be serious or just make fun of ourselves. That’s what ‘Worldtown’ is about, that’s what ‘Paper Planes’ is about. It’s what people in the third world live through.”  In 2009, Time magazine placed M.I.A. in the Time 100  list of “World’s Most Influential people” for having “global influence across many genres”.


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