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Awards for World Music 2006
M.I.A. is Maya Arulpragasam, the hottest UK urban talent in recent years. M.I.A.'s life story has already been the focus of much British media attention but if you missed the hype here it is: born in Sri Lanka, she relocated to a West London council estate as a child after her father left the family to found a Tamil revolutionary party (read "terrorist organisation" to the Sinhalese majority). Her father went on to become a Che Guevara-style figure to Tamils and Maya has invented herself as a revolutionary musical figurehead, blowing apart the UK's urban music scene with her underground mix tape titled 'Piracy Funds Terrorism Vol. 1' and singles 'Galang' and 'Sunshowers'. Her debut album Akular - named after her father's revolutionary nickname - attracted rave reviews, a Mercury Music Prize nomination and is attracting strong attention in the US (a rarity for a UK urban act).

M.I.A.'s sound is a brilliant fusion of several contemporary street genres: she raps in a mix of English slang and Jamaican patois over electronic beats, samples and loops that crunch up Brazilian baile funk, London grime, Southern crunk and Timbaland's celebrated hip-hop productions (Missy Elliot gets name checked on Akular). M.I.A.'s rhymes deal with urban life: guns, drug dealing, sex and terrorism in raw, witty and provocative word clusters. Always fluid, never too rhetorical, M.I.A.'s rhymes sound like snatches of overheard conversation:

I bongo with my lingo
Beat it like a wing yo
From Congo to Colombo
Can't stereotype my thing yo
(from Sunshowers)

M.I.A. claims her feet remain firmly on the ground, even though she's fast becoming both a pop star and urban icon. '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.' 

Garth Cartwright 

Official website
BBC Collective review
XL Records profile
M.I.A. Live on Radio 1

 Mario, Vienna
What the picture on top doesn't really show: She is one of the most beautiful women on this planet.

mia you music is S.U.P.E.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Brittany, Georgia
M.I.A. is GREAT!!! You're right she is the future of music, not necessarily hip-hop. What makes her so unique is her music, of course, but her lyrics. This isn't your artist who grew up in a middle-class family and the talks about stuff they never did. Her music represents a whole group of people who aren't represents nowadays in music - those who are standing up and fighting for what they believe in.

Claudia, Hamburg
My comment to M.I.A. is: she is hot, nice, powerlady, a music and culture fighter. She gives me new inspiration for my own musicworks. We need more powerfull lyrics and statements in this time.

Jay, USA
Her music is great

ALmost hypnotic to the point of screeming, etremely sensual and sexy. Wonderful vibes, could hear the lyrics properly to make further . I think the danger would be to try to make it more street by getting too much in to the jamaica thing- without it her music should stand on its own

Her music is great! She could be the next big thing... but I don't know because the USA likes a little word called CENSORSHIP. But she said she can't come into the US on her myspace... but about her music... I LOVE IT. It is about time the music world mixes the genres up a bit because I'm tried of the same old.

theColonist, Puerto Rico
Her music is fresh and the beats are captivating. I hope she is able to grow this unique genre of music, I'd like to hear more. Her music might be a bit complex for the typical MTV crowd but her music is still accesible and interesting enough for most to enjoy.

isabel madrid
I think she´s lame. Her rich cultural background doesn´t automatically make her good! she´s not the future of anything of value. Her album is weak, she fuses different musical styles for the hell of it. I can´t feel any real emotion here. She can be put in the false box.

Aaron, West Mids
Nah she's not the future of hiphop. She's the future of music, no way can she be put into the 'hip hop' box,thats why she declined to work with kanye. besides, she doesn't even rap. her music is something undefinable. like she says "can't stereotype my thing"

James Jacobs
Great to see someone like M.I.A. breaking through into the radio 3 folks- isn't she the future of hip hop?

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