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About M.I.A.

M.I.A.’s dissonant fusion of hip-hop, pop, punk, electronic, dancehall, and African folk blurs the line between revelry and rebellion. Born Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam in 1975, the singer/rapper was raised in London after her family escaped the civil war in their home of Sri Lanka. As a young refugee with a revolutionary father, she turned to art as her own form of activism. Inspired by friend Justine Frischmann of Elastica, M.I.A. began making music in the collage-like vein of her artwork, patching together damaged beats, global sounds, and polemic raps on a Roland MC-505 sequencer. One of her first songs, 2003’s “Galang,” quickly generated a buzz online, and she’s remained one of alt-pop’s most provocative innovators ever since. Backed by a diverse team of producers (including longtime collaborators Diplo, Switch, and Blaqstarr), M.I.A. continues to push boundaries—and plenty of buttons. Her bold, politically charged albums are packed with defiant, danceable salvos like The Clash-sampling megahit “Paper Planes” from 2007’s Kala and the Middle Eastern-inspired empowerment anthem “Bad Girls” from 2013’s Matangi. It’s safe to say, in the hands of M.I.A., no genre—and no border—is off-limits.

London, England
July 18, 1975
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