Sri Lankan hip-hop artist with a lot to say

Wed 1 Feb 2012

Sri Lankan hip-hop artist with a lot to say 

She's been making music for over a decade, but you could (just) be forgiven if you've only recently discovered M.I.A. 

Except for the single Paper Planes breaking into the mainstream in 2008, following its inclusion in the movie Slumdog Millionaire, M.I.A has garnered more critical success than commercial. 

M.I.A released her first album Arular in 2003 and was shortlisted for a Mercury Music Prize. It was followed by the album's Kala and Maya. A fourth album is expected this year. 

M.I.A has experimented with a range of music styles from angsty rock (XXXO), Bollywood disco (Jimmy) and reggae (Paper Planes). 

The singer's childhood experience of the Sri Lankan civil war has led to much of her lyrics having political meaning. She has also been outspoken at times, leading to public feuds with celebrities and the media. In 2010, after the New York Times published a less-than-flattering portrayal of the artist in its Sunday magazine, M.I.A tweeted the journalist's phone number in revenge and published a song criticising them. 

The artist's video for Born Free was also highly controversial with its depiction of genocide. 

M.I.A looks set to receive massive public attention. A Super Bowl performance watched by hundreds of millions of people, featuring on Madonna's comeback single, as well as releasing her own album, she certainly won't be missing in action this year. 

Introduce yourself to M.I.A with her radio-friendly single Jimmy