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"I told him, I’m not going to go study anywhere else, so I’m just better off becoming a hooker, [laughing] that I’d rather do anything than compromise my education. Nothing he told me could turn me away. So eventually he let me in. it was just too funny. He said I’ve got chutzpah, and may be the person to change something about their institution was someone who had chutzpah, because everyone else conformed and filled out the application form six times to get into an institution that was supposed to teach people about becoming unconventional. He thought that compared to how everyone else got in there, I was what the institution needed."

Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam, MBE (born 18 July 1975), known by the stage name M.I.A., is a British artist, film maker, singer, songwriter, rapper, activist, visual artist, humanitarian, record producer, graphic designer, photographer, fashion icon, and refugee icon. She is often described as one of the most influential artists of the 21st century, covering multicultural and countercultural, convention defying themes and utilizing a range of genres in her music to form a unique avant-garde sound, and for having revolutionized indie/underground/independent/subcultural and mainstream music and culture since her rise to prominence.


Arular (2005)[edit]

Who the hell is huntin' you?
In the BMW
How the hell they find you?
  • Who the hell is huntin' you?
    In the BMW
    How the hell they find you?
    1 4 7'd you
    Feds gonna get you
    Pull the strings on the hood
    One Paranoid you
    Blazing through the Hood.
  • I bongo with my Lingo,
    Beat it like a wing yo
    From Congo to Columbo,
    Can't sterotype my thing yo
  • Can I get Control?
    Do you like me Vulnerable?
    I'm armed and I'm equal
    More fun for the people...

Kala (2007)[edit]

Can I get Control?
Do you like me Vulnerable?
I'm armed and I'm equal
More fun for the people.
  • All I want to do is [gunshots, cash register ring sounds] take your money...
    No one on the corner has swagga like us
    Hit me on the banner prepaid wireless
    We pack and deliver like UPS trucks
    Already going hell just pumping that gas.
  • Do you know that cost of AKs
    Up in Africa
    20 dollars ain't shit to you
    But that's how much they are
    So they gonna use the shit just to get far
    • 20 Dollar

/\/\ /\ Y /\ (2010)[edit]

  • I'm here to paint what's written on your face
    Cause these are the days
    We are losing our ways
    To find better ways
    To say what nobody says
    • It Iz What It Iz
  • Yeah manmade power
    Stood like a tower
    Higher Higher, Hello
    And the higher you go
    you feel lower, oh
    I was close to the edge
    Staying undercover, staying undercover
    And with my nose to the ground
    I found my Sound

Sourced quotes[edit]

  • I think I just kind of thought about all the artists that I really respected throughout the - just any genre of music really and I think everybody that I respected and liked. They were just them. You know, they're people who always stuck to who they were, and were true and honest about who they were. So I think that kind of gave me a real like confidence to just stick at it. Just thinking about people like Bjork - you know, I don't know, Bob Dylan, you know artists that truly were strong in themselves.
  • I'm more of a realist, than a theorist
  • I performed at a show at the MoMA. There was this big dinner there, and I was seated in this hall with the mayor of New York and all these extremely wealthy art-supporting and art-buying people. There was a piece of work hanging in the hall-it was a fan. This fan was supposed to swing by the momentum of its own propeller. So, while we were having dinner, the fan was stopped, and the guy next to me, a curator at P.S.1, said, "Look, this is what art symbolizes today." Like, that piece of art is supposed to be moving, but just to have dinner we've stopped the art. That's what New York is like today. You can't have real art happen in an institution because rich people can make the world stop. The stuff on the street is a lot more interesting.
  • I used to see songwriting like editing a film or something. You can edit music like you can edit a film. Or if I was painting or making a picture or something, that night I could sit down and write a song. I think it really helps to break things up. Sometimes when you sit down to write songs, you write three or four songs in a row feeling the same sort of vibe. But if you stop in-between that time and change something, you break the pattern – you prevent yourself from unconsciously falling into a format.
  • OK, let's go and explore the rest of the world, and how easy is it to put together music through found objects and stuff, and people, and ideas and certain electricity, certain environments.
  • Kala is about my mum and her struggle–how do you work, feed your children, nurture them and give them the power of information?
  • It's important for communities to be put together on a different basis. It's really shitty that we're taught to be really patriotic when 99 percent of the shit that we wear and we use and eat and everything comes from everywhere all the time, and musically, it's the same.
    • Interview on world music and culture mixing to Rolling Stone (2009)
  • Nobody wants to be dancing to political songs. Every bit of music out there that’s making it into the mainstream is really about nothing. I wanted to see if I could write songs about something important and make it sound like nothing. And it kind of worked.
    • Interview with Nirali magazine (October 2004)
  • They wanted me to be the face of Coca Cola. I was like 'Wow. Have you guys got any idea what you’re talking about?' Then Pepsi called me the next week. My mother-in-law called me and said 'Oh my God, Maya, they’re offering you so much money.
  • I feel like I'm a fucking infomercial for issues around the world this year. I don’t want it to be like that though. I feel like for the first time I'm truly falling in love with music in its own right.
  • I was never really affected by it because I don’t have the time to go up to every grime kid and explain the ideology and the lifestyle. It’s too hard....Look at Afrikan Boy, he still has that problem. You have this talent to see something and articulate something new, but you can’t because the arena to do that doesn’t exist. It’s easier to breed movements in England than really support one artist, especially in urban culture.
    • Interview to RWD magazine on the rejection of her first album Arular by the UK grime scene (2007)
  • I didn't want to make huge political statements; in fact, I hate preachy shit and people saying, 'This is good; this is bad.' I talk about how I see things as an everyday person in England. I was saying things that were a bit controversial, and I wanted to say that there are some opinions that aren't black and white. Things are confusing and complex. If you really want to be a good person, you understand things from all points of view and you are empathetic towards every opinion and every voice. I was like, 'I'm going to make an album about how it's difficult to make sense of living today, and that is added to by the television and the media, the person at my bank and the person at my mobile phone company.' I want to make sense of all those people and what is going on, and that is what I tried to do lyrically, and not provide a manifesto.
  • I haven't heard honesty in music for so long and this is how I feel, and this is what I think. You don't even have to say words … I was just being as raw as possible. I wanted to make music that you felt in your gut.
  • I feel the reason why I'm really like outspoken and stuff is because all of these things were inflicted upon me, and I never went and caused any trouble, you know? I just feel like I was kind of skipping along in some country and somebody decides to drop a bomb and shake up my life and then it's all been survival from then on. And that's the reality for thousands - and millions - of people today. Why should I get censored for talking about a life that half the time I didn't choose to live?
  • It's good. You know, it's nice coming out and actually meeting all your fans - you make this thing in your bedroom and you don't really know who is going to get it or relate to it or anything, you know? And you just pour your heart out kind of thing, and then you find out you relate to people and that's the final process of it. You know, to meet people who are actually like you and that you connect with, you know what I mean? That's kind of cool. That's the best thing about touring.
    • On touring during Interview on MuchMusic's MuchonDemand (September 2005)
  • I'm not sure, but music now should be like sonic massage. You want to really feel it, internally. The police [sic] use sound cannons at public protests that explode people’s insides with a single note – human beings have to come up with the opposite of that.
    • Quote from interview with NME (2010)
  • As soon as I came to England, really, I must have about spent two or three months bouncing around the pop world trying to get an idea of what England was. I wasn't really motivated by anything else. And nothing really inspired me. I was really confused about who I was and where I stood in society, you know what I mean? You come there and you just don't know what the hell is going on. And then I remember the first house we stayed in and I watched 'Top of the Pops' and it was like- woah! It was the first music show that I saw on TV. I saw Madonna, Whitney Houston. It was amazing
  • I have to be true to that - I can't take certain things away. I do have a political background. I’m only in England, learning this language and building a life in this society, because of political reasons. Why would I deny that?
  • My approach to politics is that I never said I'm smart. But why aren't I allowed to write about my experience?
    • [1] Interview to Rolling Stone (2010)
  • No one ever gives those kids the microphone and says, 'Tell us, what the fuck is going on.' They don't show them because none of them know how to talk to you. It took me 20 years to get over here, learn the language, become a pop star and say, 'Finally, I get the microphone!' This is what I was going to say if I got it when I was 10.
    • [1] Interview to Rolling Stone (2010)
  • I don't know which is worse. The fact that I saw it in my life has maybe given me lots of issues, but there's a whole generation of American kids seeing violence on their computer screens and then getting shipped off to Afghanistan. They feel like they know the violence when they don't. Not having a proper understanding of violence, especially what it's like on the receiving end of it, just makes you interpret it wrong and makes inflicting violence easier."
  • Google’s more powerful than any government now – people think it’s God. They’re storing all our data and one day they’re going to turn against us.
  • The Third World deserves freedom of speech just like everyone else. We want to fight the battle to say what we want, whether to be serious or just make fun of ourselves. That's what "Worldtown" is about, that's what "Paper Planes" is about. It's what people in the third world live through.
  • He asked my mum, 'Why would I devote myself to one woman and three children when I could be helping thousands?' She said: 'If you even have to ask that, you should go.'One of those times, when he came home, he didn't even know what I was called.
    • Interview, quote on her father to The Observer (2010)
  • Exactly! Trends picks up issues and makes them so disposable. At the time when I started making my art and my music, terrorism was getting chewed up and spat out by the fashion industry, put on the run way. Face magazine in England was doing fashion shoots with girls holding machine guns and fucking rocket launchers. Yet, when something genuine comes through that, like me, using the same language, it doesn’t apply. That’s what I’m learning because that’s what I’m about. I wanna learn what my limitations are within your value system
    • Interview to EGO Magazine (2005) after being asked if the Tiger image in her work was an ironic icon and that "People are making assumptions for themselves based on the very little they know about politics?"
  • I call bullshit on any system that holds me down. If the system changed my life the way it did and it totally abused my life and my family, then I’m willing to stand up against it. My goal is to bring people into the system. If I have to use some shocking imagery or if I have to use some honest up-front language to get in and wake people up, so be it. At least, it has sparked up some discussion and young people feel like they have the right to talk. That’s all you can hope for, to induce discussion and then make people feel like they have the right to discuss political issues.
  • When I come back to London, I feel really safe and familiar. But sometimes I feel like I'm on standby, waiting to go somewhere else – where something else is happening.
  • I can sing about songs with gunshots in the background because I heard them. It's almost like my music has been a way to smoke out the hatred that's been bubbling underneath what's going on in Sri Lanka. If there's 300,000 people who are trapped and they're dying, it should be talked about, it should be brought to the table, and I don't see anything wrong in sticking up for 300,000 dying people.

Interview with Romain Gavras for Interview (2010)[edit]

Interview with M.I.A./Gavras online
  • GAVRAS: So let’s talk a little bit about being a fashion icon. Do you think, for example, that Saddam Hussein was a fashion icon?
  • M.I.A.: No. My fashion icon is Colonel [Muammar al-] Gaddafi, and he always has been. He’s rock ’n’ roll.
  • GAVRAS: Yeah, he’s the best-dressed man on the planet.
  • M.I.A.: If he were a pop star, he’d be, like, Prince or something.
  • GAVRAS: Well, he’s bigger than a pop star. I mean, when he came to Paris in 2007, he was supposed to stay at the Hôtel de Marigny, which is the best hotel. But Gaddafi came with a tent. It was this huge flagged tent—just him and his army guards, who were all girls. They were in these crazy leopard outfits. I mean, Gaddafi is way better dressed than any pop star in the world.
  • M.I.A.: I’d love to raid his wardrobe.
  • GAVRAS: I’d love to have his hair. He has very good curly, shiny hair.
  • M.I.A.: He looks like he always has gel in it. Hold on. [to taxi driver] Can you pull over, please? I’m at Notting Hill Gate station.

Quotations about M.I.A.[edit]

Film and television industry[edit]

  • A. R. Rahman: "She’s a real powerhouse...Somebody played me her CD and I thought, ‘Who is this girl? She came here and knew all my work, had followed my work for ages. I said, ‘Cut the crap, this “my idol” crap. You have to teach me." [1]
  • Aziz Ansari: "I was like a little girl at a John Mayer concert. “She stole my heart, man. It’s too much: the talent, the beauty. It’s more than this little Aziz can take.” I approached M.I.A. after her show, speaking in our native Tamil (“We’ve got a lot in common. Not a big deal.”). I said "Romba Nalla Paatu" which translates to "very good songs". She smiled, got in her car, and left. She didn’t contact me or anything after that. I guess we didn’t exchange information.” “People keep asking if she’s called me and I keep telling them no." [2], [3]
  • Claire Danes: "M.I.A. Sunshowers: It's impossible for me to resist dancing whenever I hear it." [4]
  • Danny Boyle: "When I use somebody's song in a film, I like them to see the movie, if possible, so they know how it's used. She came into the cutting room and watched it. You get a lot of people giving you notes on films when you're making them, and most of them are rubbish, to be honest. People might think they're good. Well, she came in told me the film was very good, but said, "Do you want some notes?" She gave me two specific notes, both of which we included in the film, essentially saying, "If you do that there, you'll understand why he gets on the show." She's very smart." [5]
  • Kat Graham:
    • "I love what M.I.A. represents, who she is being a refugee from Sri Lanka. The beats are the closest I've found to my own music production when I make beats. Making music with a message to change the world. Good art can change the world." [8]
    • "Definitely when I was younger, I was like a baby Janet [Laughs]. People even called me, "Baby Janet" for a long time! I watched a lot of her videos so I guess she crept into my subconscious. Really, I'm more influenced by M.I.A., Gwen Stefani and Grace Jones, style-wise. However, I think my voice, in terms of pop, is similar to Janet's." July 2010
    • I remember standing in line for M.I.A. for hours outside of The Echo. This venue is a hipsters' dream and is constantly showcasing both new and mainstream artists. It's a great place to discover your new favorite band. [9]
  • Mike Nichols: Interviewer: Are you going to the afterparty? Nichols: I don't know, is there another party, after the party? Interviewer: Yeah. After your dinner. Nichols: I didn't know that. I don't think I'm invited. Interviewer: Do you listen to M.I.A.? Nichols: Yes! [at MoMA "Party in the Garden" 2008] [10]
  • Romain Gavras:
    • "a million hit a day without showing your tits, M.I.A ur cool." 5 February 2012
    • "A lot of pop artists claim to be crazy. But it’s fake craze. [M.I.A.] on the other hand — she’s crazy. She’s the only female artist with this natural panache that comes across as effortless. She invests herself fully in projects that no one believes in. Creatively, no other contemporary pop artists are as interesting as she is.” March 2012 [after directing music video for "Bad Girls"]
  • Ruben Fleischer: "..The principle idea behind M.I.A.'s artwork is to have pretty heavy/political ideas, but to present them in a poppy candy-coated wrapper. So someone might buy her painting because it is pretty to the eye, and not necessarily consider that it is a rebellious image that she is presenting. However, after they've had it for a while, they might start to think - why do I have a pink tank on my wall? … I think that ["Galang"] is a very successful video in that we have true images of revolution playing on MTV. However, because there's lots of pretty colors and a pretty girl dancing, no one blinks an eye. Hopefully we have succeeded in subconsciously starting the revolution." May, 2005 [after directing music video for "Galang"]
  • Spike Jonze: "I met her right before she put out her first record, in 2005, and she insisted she wasn't a musician. To this day, she doesn't consider herself a musician. She has this wide range of talents and influences — she's a Sri Lankan refugee who didn't speak a word of English before she was 10, yet she's also a child of Chuck D and the Pixies and Fight Club and MySpace. There are no borders for her. She made me realize that you don't have to be from the West to have a favorite Biggie song. We are all listening to the same music. Last summer she was performing in Philadelphia, and she showed up at the venue, and it was an armory building. She felt kind of weird about it and decided she wasn't going to perform there unless she acknowledged that, so she found a group of Army veterans against the Iraq war and had them come and speak as her opening act. That's her mission — it's personal and evolving, focused but totally spontaneous. She's always for the underdog. And no matter how many times she's on the Grammys, she'll always see herself as the underdog." [11]

Music industry[edit]

  • Alicia Keys:
    • "Working with other people is definitely something I want to do more of. I love it a lot. It takes me out of my element into a whole other world. I'd love to collaborate with Kings of Leon and M.I.A. I think would be crazy." [12]
    • "I have a little list [of desired collaborators]. Prince is on it, M.I.A., Kings Of Leon and Maxwell. But I've always wanted to do something with U2....She added: "We are good friends and if we were to do something together, I think that would be really special." [13]
  • Amy Lee of Evanescence: "She's so freaking powerful and awesome...I love her voice because it's weird, almost like she doesn't care." [14]
  • Avril Lavigne: "MIA sticking her middle finger out at Super Bowl is obscene? How about almost 50 million Americans living in poverty. That's obscene." [16]
  • Beastie Boys
    • Adrock: "There’s a lot of people making a lot of good music out there. They were playing the new M.I.A. record at this record store I was at today. It’s pretty kookie." [17]
    • Mike D: "I’d actually like to see M.I.A. live. We played at the Sasquatch festival and I was all excited to see her and then she wasn’t allowed in the country or something." [18]
    • MCA: "I like the M.I.A. record. I like the production and I like her vocal melodies too. It was cool…" [19]
  • Big Boi of OutKast: "Sooo 2 girls can kiss on TV, but M.I.A can't flip the middle finger, GTFOH" [20]
  • Björk:
    • "She's a trooper."
    • "I have always felt that too many different things in electronic music are called “production.” In a rock band you have rhythm, bass line, keyboards, guitar and production. In electronic music all of this is called “production.” I have written a lot of songs in the past where someone comes in right at the end when the song is 90 percent ready and adds in a bass line and gets production credit. I feel a lot of it is because computers carry a lot of mystery around them and it is hard for people to see it for what it is. Also a part of it might be a pinch of sexism. I have seen over and over … obviously creative girl producers like Missy Elliott, Peaches and M.I.A. credited in the press as only singers and then whatever guy who was in a five-meter radius when the recording happened gets all the production credit, even though it says on the CD cover credit that they produced it. But I feel it is changing now. Everybody has computers, everybody is writing music on their computers at home, including girls. So we’ll see." [21]
    • "I thought it was really weird and unfair when M.I.A. and Joanna Newsom were asked about Gaga and then because they didn’t like her music, it was immediately big news online and they had to shoot each other down. It’s like the three new, most happening female pop girls, the same kind of age, and they had to shoot each other down! Guys are never asked to do that. It’s just ‘the more, the merrier’, you know?."[22]
  • Chris Brown: "Was in the studio with the incredible M.I.A and Polow!! Amazing artist! ReAl talent." [23]
  • Christina Aguilera: "I just can't, 'cause I really want you guys to be surprised and to experience firsthand what I'm talking about or what I'm not talking too much about. Too soon in the game, but wrapping everything up now... I got a chance to sort of write with M.I.A. - artists that I really love." [24]
  • Chuck D: "She is the future of music, and the future is here." [25]
  • Feist: "I met Maya Arulpragasam about four or five years ago in England when I was on tour with the rapper Peaches, who was also my roommate. We stayed with Justine Frischmann, from Elastica, and she and Maya were roommates. Maya wasn't making music back then; she was making clothes and videos and art, spray-painting jackets. A couple months ago, I was at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, and I saw her onstage, and it was just amazing. I can't stop listening to her new album, Arular (XL/Beggars U.S.). "Pull Up the People" is a song that's always rotating through my head. I didn't know I needed sunshine-dancehall-booty music until I got her record." [26]
  • James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem: "Yeah, I did [meet her at South by Southwest], she was incredibly sweet and really nice. It was really funny: She played, and I don't know what it sounded like 'cause I was on the side of the stage which just sounds like chaos because you don't hear what the PA's doing. She came off and I introduced myself, "Hi, I'm James, I hear we're doing a buncha shows together," and she said, "Really? You still wanna do shows after that shitty show?" Which I thought was great." May 2005
  • John Legend: "M.I.A. is killing it right now. Great beats. Distinctive voice." [28]
  • Jon McClure of Reverend and the Makers:
    • "It's difficult because here there's no one doing it. There are people like Damon Albarn, Ian Brown and 3D from Massive Attack and people like that, but among new artists there's only me and MIA who seriously and permanently question British government foreign policy. That is really dark compared to the counter-culture in the 1960s and the punk movement in the 1970s and Red Wedge in the 1980s. They were a kind of social voice but now there's none. This is at a time with the current economic situation, being at war in two countries, with the possibility of a war in a third country - or fourth if you include Pakistan - there's the situation with climate change and there's the rise of the BNP. I would argue we need a politicised voice more than ever, but within mainstream music there's no one, and you have to ask yourself why. I think one of the reasons is that it has been recently a bit of a commercial suicide to entertain politics in your music. But my heroes were political - Bob Marley, John Lennon, Joe Strummer. It's become un-cool to care about the world you live in. It's become cool to take crack. I don't think that's a rebellious act. I think it's far more rebellious to question the country we live in and the government. I never fell out of love with the idea of it being cool to care about the world you live in." [29]
    • "...in the last twenty years - hip-hop, rap, grime, gabba, jungle, bashment, dub-step - British MCs are continually innovative. In the meantime we've had the new rock revolution, brit-pop and new rave, all of which are backwards looking genres of music made by middle-class white people - see what I'm saying? In a narrative of British music, Black culture and Asian culture has been completely written out of the history of British music by white journalists who are essentially very conservative in their outlook. So therefore we're trying to address that. Secondly to that, there's only me and MIA amongst new artists that since 9/11 have continually questioned British foreign policy. And this record seriously takes this to task..." [30]
  • Justine Frischmann: "In terms of the music scene today, I still think that Maya's work [MIA] is interesting. But I'm the wrong person to ask. I live in rural northern California where there are coyotes wandering in the streets. And I don't own a TV." July 2011
  • Kanye West:
    • "M.I.A's from the future. Our present is her past." [31]
    • "Some mornings I have to play that old M.I.A album... I just have to... Bamboo Banga M.I.A coming back POOOWEEERRR POOOWERRRRR." [32]
    • "PEEP M.I.A on Letterman... performance i s so creative.. She's got the Genius." [33]
    • "I look up to M.I.A. and Thom Yorke." [34]
  • Katy Perry: "I love M.I.A., but I don't think she likes me. I know how people who are anti-pop but are really pop feel about popstars" [August 2010, Rolling Stone]
  • Kim Gordon: "I went to see M.I.A. play at Mount Holyoke, and it was a hall filled with girls, and they were going crazy. I could hear the beats more live, the record is so dense. I like her lyrics. I like that her music is rhythms upon rhythms. It escapes genre. I wouldn’t even call it a hip-hop record, I’d just call it M.I.A. She had this great footage of tribal dancers and these two young girls dancing onstage who were amazing. “Kala” (Interscope) has great grooves — it’s very colorful, lots of texture and density. The rhythms aren’t generic. They’re intuitive and organic." [35]
  • Kreayshawn: "The only show I saved all my money to go see was MIA.. Twice!!" [36]
  • Krist Novoselic of Nirvana: "There's much to admire about the rapper M.I.A. She's a working mom, a dynamite performer, and a writer of songs, like "Bucky Done Gun," that command you to give the volume knob a twist. And with her outspoken political views and heart for her homeland, Mathangi Arulpragasam [sic] reflects the global consciousness of the information revolution....An ethnic Tamil, M.I.A. is a member of the minority that makes up the northern part of Sri Lanka, a country governed by the majority Sinhalese since the end of WWII. The Sinhalese-controlled government and Tamil's rebel fighters had been involved in a decades-long civil war until the rebel leader was killed and their fighters routed, thus putting an end to the conflict. M.I.A. has been giving interviews regarding the humanitarian costs of the military action, including the 300,000 displaced ethnic Tamils, many living in overcrowded camps. This reminds me of my situation in the early 1990s during the war in the former Yugoslavia. I had emerged from obscurity to play bass in the biggest band in the world. Being of Croatian heritage, I found myself speaking out about the war in the Balkans. (I lived in Yugoslavia in 1980 and have visited many times since.)...One person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter. We can toss this back and forth, but in the meantime too many innocents suffer. The Sri Lankan government has said that M.I.A. should stick with music and not worry about politics. It doesn't matter if she's Tamil or Sinhalese, M.I.A. is the most famous Sri Lankan in the world. She has the right to speak. I didn't know about Sri Lanka and the trouble there until M.I.A. made me aware. Her work can be political, but that aspect never seems overbearing. Thank you, Mathangi Arulpragasa, for bringing my attention to what's going on in that part of our world. And a big thanks for the great tunes as well!" [37]
  • Lady Gaga: "My fellow hardworking female art student. Just like me, her song [Paper Planes] took almost a full year to climb to the top. But we worked hard, and we did it." [38]
  • Madonna
    • "I'm a fan of her music but also I like her independence, her spirit. She's cheeky and unique and has an individual voice. She's not a conventional pop star and I really admire her. I love her actually." Feb 2012
    • I wasn’t happy about it. I understand it’s punk rock and everything, but to me there was such a feeling of love and good energy and positivity, it seemed negative,” she said. “It’s such a teenager, kind of irrelevant thing to do. But on the other hand, there was such a feeling of love and unity there, what was the point? It was just out of place" On Super Bowl gesture, Feb 2012
    • I was up in the bleachers doing my pom pom routine. I was oblivious. In fact, I didn’t really know about it until after I had come backstage and changed and came out to finish watching the football game…I was surprised, nobody knew about it. She surprised us all. I like her and you know I believe in people having individuality and I like her punk rock attitude. Actually I think she’s really cool and that’s why I asked her to be in my show and be on my record. But I didn’t think that was the time or the place for it, to tell you the truth. That’s the unfortunate thing and we were really careful to be super honest and the NFL was super honest with us about what we could and couldn’t do and I had no interest in rocking the boat or doing anything to offend anybody. We were all clear on that and it was a joyous evening…not the place for it. It felt like a negative note, you know what I mean? She has [apologized]. I know she feels bad…I accept her apology, but you know, I think she still has her head in the sand right now. I’m not sure. [The Super Bowl] was an overwhelming experience. I’ve never played in the round like that before in the middle of the stadium and so I was worried about that and also it was on NFL turf. I didn’t know how people were going to respond and it was just crazy. I think it was the best time I’ve ever had on stage. On Super Bowl gesture, Feb 2012
    • I was looking to collaborate with women who I think have a strong sense of themselves. They were a lot of fun to be around in the studio, for sure. I think we were all shy of each other in the beginning, that's just human nature. I think we got over that pretty quickly. They're both very self-possessed people, especially M.I.A. I don't think she's impressed much by stars and celebrities, so we just got down to business. I loved her. May 2012 on album collaboration
  • Mike Shinoda: "On our first Fort Minor tour, Styles of Beyond were touring with me. [Bucky Done Gun] by M.I.A. was practically the theme song that tour. I think our crew was sick of hearing it! At any rate, I think that's what one of my favorite things about music is: those times when hearing a song reminds you of a time in your past, when it connects you directly with the memory every time you hear it. Good song." [39]
  • Missy Elliott:
    • "MIA! heyyy BadGal! Just shouting ya out:)" [40]
    • "Thank u MIA!! This make the 2nd time we work 2gether. Hopefully there's more 2 come:) #Badgal!" [Following collaboration on remix for "Bad Girls" (2012)] [41]
  • Nas: "Her sound is the future."[2]
  • Nelly Furtado: "I have heard bits of the M.I.A Album and it is so cool..what a flow, what a style...and girl can dance!!!" [Listening to album Arular during the recording of Loose.] [42]
  • Nicki Minaj: "I love M.I.A. … Based on that first video she put out ['Born Free'], She's not doing stuff for the mainstream applause, and I applaud her for that. She's a creative being and you're either gonna love it or hate it but you have to respect it. And I love her. When she hit me to do a record with her, I thought I had died and gone to heaven." Minaj also recalled the first time she heard "Paper Planes," when she thought, " 'Who is this bitch!?' I thought those were like the sickest lyrics. And then when I'd watch her videos, she doesn't give a fuck. That's what we want more of, we want people who don't give a fuck." [43]
  • Nicole Scherzinger of Pussycat Dolls:
    • "The most righteous chick is M.I.A. She stands for so much that we really stand for." [44]
    • "My favourite British female artist? M.I.A." [45]
  • Melody Thornton of Pussycat Dolls:
    • "Well, musically there are a lot of people we’d like to work with that we haven’t yet had the pleasure of collaborating with - like Pharrell, Madonna… I mean, we were just talking about doing something with MIA - which would be so nuts!" [46]
  • Patrick Wolf: "I've just fallen in love in the last couple of days with her work. She's great. I love "Bird Flu". I met her recently, and I'm a very, very big supporter of her work, and her attitude and what she stands for." [47]
  • Peaches: "I first met M.I.A. as Maya in America way back in 2000 [laughs]. And she was a great videographer and she was also making her own films and her own clothes. I think that you can transfer your creativities to all different areas. She was a videographer, she made me clothes, she has a creative mind, and a passion and a drive." [48]
  • Richard X: "It's very much who tickles my fancy," he says, although he's been lucky to meet a couple of "kindred spirits" - including Kelis and M.I.A" [49]
  • Rye Rye:
    • I like my style to be colorful, with alot of patterns as well. The style sorta rubbed off from M.I.A. so it's like my style sometimes incorporated with hers. Me and M.I.A.'s relationship is funny. It's sorta like she's a parent one minute, then a sister, then a best friend. I mean, I feel like I bring the kid outta her. When I was on tour with her, we'd always do fun stuff together, or I would keep her laughing, it just felt like a childish moment, that spirit. It's a best friend type of thing. December 2011
  • Santigold:
    • She's always kind of M.I.A. She's this really blunt, charismatic person all the time. If you take her someplace, she'll probably say something to make you embarrassed. She's always on. If we go out to the store -- she lives around the corner from me -- or if we go to the gym, it's like, I put on the crackhead outfit and she puts on, like... the works." "You know what I mean? I find that inspiring! She's genuinely one of the most stylish people I've ever met." [50]
  • Sleigh Bells:
    • Derek Miller: "She was one of our first fans," he says, "and she was and still is one of my favourite MCs. So that blew my mind. I read the email three times and was shaking a little, because something like that changes the direction of your life. It was an intense moment and I'm forever grateful to her for that." [51]
    • Alexis Kraus: "It's really exciting to have her in our court and be able to work with her. At this point it's more about being part of a creative community and the day-to-day running of the business is pretty much Mom + Pop's job. It's the fact that she had interest in us literally before anyone else cared at all which definitely boosted our confidence." [52]
  • Solange Knowles: "I went to a M.I.A. show and I thought the best moment of her show, is she literally invited anyone who wanted to onstage, just the energy of, you know, being with the crowd, and its people who love your music, it feels really good." September 2008, Jimmy Kimmel Show
  • Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree:
    • "I love the MIA album, the Sri Lankan rapper girl."[53]
    • "M.I.A is one of those people who has been embraced as much by the NME as The Wire, the Wire is a very arty magazine and I buy that because it's one of the few magazine's I can find interesting things in there...I'd love to collaborate with someone like M.I.A - interesting cultural differences and totally different style of music. For me it's a passion to work with different people and people from different musical genres [sic]." [54]
  • Teddy Geiger: "That's that MIA thing. She has the bombs, they'll make you blow. Simple as that!" [55]
  • Thom Yorke: "I really try to limit [listening to other people's music while working on new songs], but M.I.A.'s first record really seeped in. M.I.A. takes this complete block and chop repeat, chop repeat, chop, not finished [method]. Which really reminds me of that thing of just picking up a guitar and the first three chords you write and being like, yep, that's good. Stop. End. Not sort of sitting there fifteen hours later agonizing over the hi-hat sound. That seems to be what happens with programming and electronica a lot of the time. You can feel the pain going on." [56]
  • Timbaland: "We wanna go to the world. The world is 'Big Pimpin'.' 'Big Pimpin' ' is an international hit, so we wanna do 10 of those. Meaning, some of the songs gonna sound like M.I.A. would rap on some of the beats. You gonna be like, 'Whoa!'" [57]
  • Trent Reznor: "The only thing that I play in my car right now is Arular by a girl named M.I.A., the most innovative artist in years." (2005) [58] [Reznor subsequently wanted to collaborate with M.I.A. in 2005, and added her songs "Pull Up The People", "Hombre" and "Galang" to the setlist of Pre-Show Music played at Nine Inch Nails Lights in the Sky concert tour (2008 - 2009).] 2005, [59]
  • Vampire Weekend:
    • Chris Tomson: "I would like to say that I got to meet MIA at Coachella '08 when we played it. She came to say hello and she was in our backstage trailer. We bonded about raisins. She ate a lot of raisins. I personally enjoy raisins and trail mix a lot. I was eating some and she asked if she could have some. She said she was eating them all the time when she recorded her first album." 2010, Village Voice [60]
  • Wayne Coyne of Flaming Lips: "The new M.I.A. I like the "Born Free" single with the Suicide sample. I didn't like the video that much. But I like her. I think she's a badass. She's a freak. She's cool. She's intense. I think she gets a bit too bitchy sometimes, but I don't care." - on what he was listening to, July 2010, Rolling Stone [61]

Fashion industry[edit]

  • Carri "Cassetteplaya" Mundane:
    • "I've known M.I.A. about 7 years when she started doing music I started working with her. I wardrobed Galang and I made her African print tracksuits for tour and press. More recently i styled some shoots for her, made some graphics, I also spent a month in India with her when we did bird flu and got to work on the Boyz video in Jamaica. Working with Maya is the ultimate cos she is the ultimate artist, she is fearless and totally committed to every area of her career and identity. She's pushing boundaries sonically and culturally and she still as real as ever, sits and checks her MySpace, makes her own graphics, co directs her videos." [62]
    • "BTW I didn't retweet "@TMZ:M.I.A. Flashes Middle Finger During Super Bowl”cos it was lol but cos I thought it was LOL anyone cld be offendedFebruary 6, 2012
    • "Tinie on the entrance music, M.I.A on at halftime, pretty bloody good for the UK i'd say.." [Retweet of Manny Norte][63][64]
  • Donatella Versace: "Her music and style seemed so fresh and innovative. She is a total artist." [65] [for Designer's Musician Muses (2011)]
  • Eric Daman and Meredith Markworth-Pollack: "Vanessa is a breath of fresh air. She’s the Lower East Side, Raising Victor Vargas home-girl. One night we saw M.I.A. in concert wearing a sequin sailor suit and were like “Omigod, she is so Vanessa.”" [66] [on M.I.A. being the inspiration for the costumes of character Vanessa Abrams on television series Gossip Girl.]
  • Jean-Charles de Castelbajac: "I have collaborated with M.I.A. for four years but I also like Metronomy and Ebony Bones. There are a lot of talented people around." 2010
  • Karl Lagerfeld: "Nowadays people give the middle finger quite quickly - it's not the best behaviour. Everybody does that, what's new about that? It's just become a bad habit. People in magazines are 50% bimbo and 50% pregnant women" February 7, 2012 [on M.I.A. flipping the middle finger to the camera during the 2012 Superbowl half-time show]
  • Kesh: "I appreciate M.I.A.. A real artist." [67]
  • Luella Bartley: "She had an unabashed in-your-face craziness that I loved, admired, and identified with." [68]

Photography industry[edit]

  • Ryan McGinley: "We had to basically rig a truss for this swing; it was a major production to make sure it was safe. I tried it out. M.I.A. might have gotten there and said, 'I'm not doing this; this is too crazy.' But she got on and just started swinging like it was something normal. "I remember her saying, 'If I'm going to go out, this is an awesome way to go.'" [69]


  • Anthony Napolitan: "I think I have a thing for female singers; I like the way they sound. MIA is a very unique one at that. [Paper Planes] is an all-time favorite for me. I just like it!" [70]


  1. a b (August 2010). "M.I.A. Radical Chic". Rolling Stone.
  2. Collins, Hattie (June 2005). "M.I.A. – Front line" 13 (7). ISSN 1070-4701.

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