M.I.A.– British singer, producer, designer
M.I.A.’s real name is Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam. She was born in the UK on 18 July 1975. Her father participated in the movement to create Tamil Eelam. Maya’s appearance, which conquered the hearts of many fans all over the world, comes from her Indian origins. The singer was born in London but spent her childhood in Sri Lanka. Even though her father didn’t live with the family and never tried to take part in the children’s upbringing, Maya shares his views, has an active public position, and often voices her opinion about politics.
While living on Sri Lanka, Maya attended catholic schools and studied art. At that time, the political situation in India was worsening and the singer’s family decided to move back to London. M.I.A. returned to her homeland in 1986. Her mother found a job as a seamstress and helped Maya finish school. The young woman graduated from Ricards Lodge High School and went on to get a bachelor degree in Arts and Design. In college, Maya showed a serious interest in hip-hop, which she enjoyed since childhood. In the late 1980’s when she just came back from India, the young woman met different hip-hop artists and was inspired by their work.
In 2004, Maya finally made a decision to record her first singles. "Galang" and "Sunshowers" quickly became popular on the web. Different labels made the young singer their offers. Eventually, by the end of 2004, she signed a contract with XL Recordings.
In 2005, M.I.A. recorded her debut LP, Arular. The album made it into Metacritic’s Best-Reviewed Electronic/Dance Album list for 2000 – 2009. It also edged its way into Billboard 200, reaching the 98th spot. Overall, it was a huge success for a beginner. The critics believed that the album became successful due to a mix of special rhymes with a special Tamil approach. The singer said she dedicated that album to her mother and father.
The next LP Kala came out in 2007. While recording the album, the singer traveled a lot. She visited India, Japan, Trinidad, Liberia, the UK, Jamaica, and Australia. Maya incorporated different national instruments into the music. Eastern motives make the songs colorful and unusual. The LP appeared on many world charts. Several music magazines called it the best album of 2007. At that time, many event organizers tried to book M.I.A., however, she was busy traveling and recording new music.
In 2010, the singer released her next album, which she called /\/\/\Y/\ (Maya). For the first time, she used the industrial music elements. The LP became Maya’s most successful work to date. It reached the 9th spot of Billboard 200. The album featured such hits as “XXXO”, “It Takes a Muscle”, “Born Free”, and “Story to Be Told”.
Indian mythology inspired Maya to record her fourth album, Matangi. The LP received controversial reviews from the critics but was popular among fans. NME magazine gave the album the 12th spot on its Best Album of 2013 list. Pitchfork Media placed it on the 46th spot of a similar rating. The album was commercially successful. It sold 15 thousand copies in the first week after the release and climbed to the 23rd spot of Billboard 200.
In 2016, M.I.A. released her next LP, AIM. The album was less successful than her previous work but still made it into the charts. It featured such popular songs as "Borders", "Go Off", "Bird Song", "Freedun".
Many USA and UK magazines call M.I.A. a fashion icon. Even though the singer doesn’t agree with the title, she actively works in the beauty and fashion industry.
Today, M.I.A. continues recording new songs and performs live.