Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Born as Mathangi Arulpragasam in London, England in 1977, singer-songwriter and visual artist M.I.A. spent her childhood in her parents' native Sri Lanka after her father moved the family there so he could support the Tamil independence movement. Much of her lyrical content and visual graphics are influenced by the political struggles she witnessed both as a child, and later, as a refugee on a South London council estate following her mother's return to England.

 She began exhibiting her paintings in 2001, before recording a demo tape of her tunes in her bedroom. XL Recordings issued her debut album Arular in 2005, followed by Kala in 2007. The single "Paper Planes" benefited from its inclusion in trailers for Pineapple Express, as it became a Top 5 hit in the U.S. during the summer of 2008.M.I.A. began 2008 on a high note, as her critically acclaimed sophomore album, Kala, was selected as one of the best albums of 2007 in many prominent year-end surveys, including being named Album of the Year by both Rolling Stone and Blender.

M.I.A. created the N.E.E.T. record label and also modeled for Marc Jacobs this past year. "Paper Planes" became a phenomenon, bounding up Billboard's Singles chart to No. 4. In addition to its appearance in Pineapple Express, it was also heard in Hancock and Slumdog Millionaire, and it made it to No. 1 on TRL. The L.A. Dodgers borrowed the track as their victory song, and Rihanna sang it in concert as well. To cap it all off, "Paper Planes" earned her a Grammy nomination for Record of the Year in December. M.I.A. and fiancé Benjamin Brewer are expecting their first child in 2009.