M.I.A. has remained one of the most reactionary, volatile forces in the entertainment industry. From day one, she has catered to the underground revolutionaries and hasn't diluted her beliefs for mainstream success. She has completely changed the sonic landscape and paved the way for more experimental, diverse music.
Her music confronts the idea of the "other." And as a refugee herself, she has used her platform to bring major attention to immigration politics, genocide, the current refugee crisis, and what she declares the "Third World Democracy." Even outside of the music itself, she has become a hotbed for controversy. She has continuously fought back against censorship and advocated for freedom of expression. She has also said some things that are hard to agree with (see: her comments on the #BlackLivesMatter movement).
Whether or not you're a fan of her work, there's no denying that M.I.A. has had a huge impact on culture. In honor of her 41st birthday, we visit her most impactful lyrics and the effect they've had.
M.I.A.'s first single from her debut album Arular, "Pull Up the People," confronted tensions between the public and government. During the time of its release, the United States was two years into the Iraq war, with many growing increasingly frustrated with the Bush administration.