There’s no one else quite like M.I.A.
Since her arrival on the music scene nearly 20 years ago, Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam has acted as one of the industry’s chief provocateur’s, challenging Western ideals as only a Sri Lankan Tamil born in London, but raised the Northern Province of the country can. With an upbringing shaped by increasing displacement from the country’s decades long civil war, she’s used her art to shed light on human rights violations and the plight of refugees, crouching her heavy subject matter within a uniquely global electro/hip-hop sound.
She’ll have you dancing, and once you are, she’s going to make sure you’re thinking, too.
With five albums under her belt, and a sixth rumored to be on the way, her journey has been marked some soaring highs and a few controversial lows. In honor of her 45th birthday on July 18, we thought we’d take a look at the five musical moments that have shaped her groundbreaking career.