M.I.A. is a most known as a singer/musician, but she is also a graphic designer, clothing designer, photographer, music video directors, and record label founder (N.E.E.T.).
Maya Arulpragasam was born in London but is of Tamil (people from Sri Lanka) descent. In fact, her family returned to Sri Lanka shortly after M.I.A. was born, as her father returned as a founding member of the Eelem Revolutionary Organization of Students (EROS), one of the militant groups that has been involved in the fighting in this region.
Maya/M.I.A.'s family (with the exception of her father) left Sri Lanka as the violence escalated and went to live in India for a time before returning to London where her siblings and mother lived as refugees, here M.I.A. learned English.
Now a New Yorker, M.I.A.'s life has continued to be anything but ordinary, and only recently has she found herself gaining a sense of notoriety...most recently with Grammy Nominations and an Academy Award.
If you follow the music scene, you may recognize the name...but if you follow the movie scene, you make think I'm crazy.
I've been listening to the music of M.I.A. the past couple weeks and her sound is absolutely bizarre. It's a strange mix of world sounds, rap, techno, dance, and lyrically different music.
M.I.A.'s first album, Arular, was released worldwide in 2005 (The title of her album references Probably the biggest thing I have noticed, especially in listening to songs off this album is the way that the rap/dance music draws on not only the sounds of other culture's but the slang of other cultures. For example, the song "Bucky Done Gun" uses British-slang "Bucky" for Gun, the song samples horn riff's from Bill Conti's Rocky song "Gonna Fly Now," and it's lyrics, beat, and instrumentation make it like nothing else.
In 2007 M.I.A. released her second album, Kala, named after her mother. The songs were written while M.I.A. was traveling the world with U.S. visa problems. But this album was cited as one of the best of 2007 by such publications as Rolling Stones.
The Grammys systems of award nominations and winners is sometimes hard to understand, and so even though this album came out in 2007, two of the songs from this album are up for Grammys. M.I.A. is nominated for Record of The Year with the song "Paper Planes" and Rap song of the year with "Swagga Like Us."
Will she win, who knows? But she seems to have a respectable chance of taking home a prize.
With the Grammy's multiple awards and nominating systems it's not completely surprising that M.I.A. received a nomination. With her uncatagorizable style, it seems like in future years who knows what categories she might slip into, assuming she continues to gain notoriety.
The Oscar Nod
The Grammy is not that surprising, but a year ago, no one could have ever predicted that M.I.A. would ever get an Oscar nomination. But in the best original song category, two of the thee nominees come from Slumdog Millionaire (the third nominee is from Wall-E).
In addition to the energized end credits song "Jai Ho," the song "O Saya" was also nominated. "O Saya" is written by Slumdog composer A.R. Rahman and Maya Arulpragasam (M.I.A.). M.I.A. is also the performer in this piece.
M.I.A.'s nomination doesn't come for lack of competition, I'm sure many people were surprised that their favorite song didn't get nominated (Gran Torino, The Wrestler, Once In A Lifetime, I Thought I Lost You, etc.).
You never know who the Academy will honor in this category (remember, "It's Hard out There For A Pimp" by Three 6 Mafia from Hustle & Flow or when Eminem won with "Lose Yourself" from 8 Mile). So I'd certainly think M.I.A. is not out of the race, and could potentially be an Oscar winner.
I have a feeling, even beyond the Oscar nomination, she is surely enjoying the success of the Slumdog Millionaire Soundtrack which is one of the first albums released on M.I.A.'s N.E.E.T. label. This album also features her Grammy nominated song "Paper Planes."
If you don't believe M.I.A. might cause seizures, check out her website, listen to her music, and check out her clothing line. She certainly should carry a warning label cautioning those with Epilepsy.