Sunday, April 26, 2015

The evolution of... M.I.A

Remember when “Paper Planes” propped up stoner comedy film trailers and BBC Sport montages and everyone was treating M.I.A like she was just this new thing that appeared rather than a totemic cultural figure who’d spent over a decade grafting through war zones, bourgeois music circles, tabloid frontlines, and political exile? Her story shouldn’t be skirted over. So here we retrace the evolution of M.I.A, from small-town beginnings to an unlikely global icon: a popstar responsible for radio bangers; an anti-style icon with a conscience; a terrorism relativist; a dominating trans-global force of creativity. M.I.A has thrown the finger to middle America, supported Wikileaks, worn trousers capable of inducing epileptic fits, and collaborated with some of the most innovative in the international underground. But before all that, there was Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam.

It’s well documented that Maya’s Dad was a Tamil loyalist in Sri Lanka, and founder of Eros, a student body which campaigned during the 70s and 80s for a separate Tamil state. Maya was born in Britain, but her father took the family back to Sri Lanka when she was just six months old so that he could help fight for Tamil independence. Picking up scraps of clothing from her seamstress mother’s table - “because what fell on the floor was mine” - and surrounded by the errant bullets of civil war, the prominent parts of M.I.A’s future soundboard started to form.

Her career has been peppered with pushback against the Sri Lankan government. She has frequently tried to expose their wrongdoing, claiming that they’re guilty of the genocide of local Tamils. Her Glastonbury performance in 2014 featured t-shirts protesting against Tamil deportation. Yet despite a shared cause, she hasn’t spoken to her father much since childhood, since his role within the Tamil Tigers forced the family to flee Sri Lanka and return to London in 1986, where they lived in bedsits, hostels and council flats. Returning to the UK in a single parent family, the Arulpragasms found themselves the Sri Lankan filling of a Irish-Jamaican council estate sandwich. Full story...

Related posts:
  1. M.I.A and "Born free..."
  2. M.I.A. talks about Sri Lanka and the Tamil genocide...
  3. Sri Lanka's killing fields (Graphic)
  4. Sri Lanka's killing fields 2. Unpunished war crimes. (Graphic)

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