‘M.I.A.’ is not missing in action with social issues


“M.I.A.” is the woman we all aspire to be – not just because of her off-the-wall, stick it to the man odes to womanhood, but for her tenacious will to thrive in and impact a cruel world.

Before she became the iconic, experimental rapper known as “M.I.A.,” Mathangi Arulpragasam was a young refugee escaping the ravages of a Sri Lankan war. Growing up impoverished and enduring the havoc of a politically radical father, young “M.I.A.” learned that the only way out was through education.

After fleeing to India with her mother and brother, she quickly picked up English in school and eventually relocated again but this time to London.

Though Arulpragasam’s life in England was modest, she fought for a prestigious education at an art school in London. There she studied fine art, film and video in the hopes of creating realism-inspired art.

Her desire to initiate a conversation about racial adversities, religious injustices and genocide—all the hot button issues people turn a blind eye to—is palpable in her music.

She wrote “Sunshowers” in reaction to religious persecution:

“Semi-9 and sniped him

On that wall they posted him

They cornered him

And then just murdered him

He told them he didn’t know them

He wasn’t there, they didn’t know him

They showed him a picture then

Ain’t that you with the Muslims?”

This is just one example of many politically charged songs “M.I.A.” is responsible for. She wrote her most popular song, “Paper Planes” in retaliation to the American government’s refusal to issue her a visa.

“I fly like paper, get high like planes

If you catch me at the border I got visas in my name

If you come around here, I make ’em all day

I get one down in a second if you wait”


If her sense of nonconformity was not already blindingly apparent, her newest album, “AIM” addresses refugee and immigration issues across the globe and calls out first world societies for their materialism and lack of compassion.

This self-made woman is not only changing the face of music, but the world as well.

Anisha Brady can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_arts on Twitter.