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From her XL webpage: "Hailing from Sri Lanka via London, M.I.A. is Maya Arulpragasam. Her early underground singles, ‘Galang’ and ‘Sunshowers’, shocked listeners with sharp lyrics about urban unease thrown on top of raw beats you could dance to, and in late 2004, as she finished her debut album for XL Recordings, she released a hip-hop style promotional mixtape showcasing her distinctive vocal style and quirky rapping over dancehall rhythms and instrumental tracks by platinum artists like Missy Elliot and Jay-Z. As a collaboration with another buzz artist (Philly's DJ/producer Diplo), the Piracy Funds Terrorism Vol. 1 mixtape had roughly the same effect as gasoline on an open fire; the project made many critics' "best of" list for 2004 while simultaneously cementing her proper album Arular as the most anticipated release of 2005.
On stage, M.I.A.'s live show backed up the buzz with a packed schedule that saw her rocking every mic she touched, from the tiny stage of a dank Ukrainian social club in Philly to electrifying performances in front of thousands of fans at the Coachella, Glastonbury, Reading and Sonar festivals. When Arular finally dropped in April, the M.I.A. explosion took on atomic proportions.
But M.I.A. wants you to know that her story is only beginning to be told. It would be an error to mistake the positive press and rave reviews - and yes, the hype around her - for who she is as a person and as an artist, she explains, mainly because she's always evolving and creating. "Because I was doing something that some people thought was fresh, new and exciting, there was this idea that I was gonna bring forth a big Ten Commandments type of statement or something," she says. "But people don't realize that I had to come from a village in Sri Lanka to get here. So the journey is about the journey itself, not just about doing music."
Since then, M.I.A. has released a second album, Kala.
Albums to date:
Photograph from M.I.A. on XL recordings page, here.