Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam MBE (born 18 July 1975), known by her stage name M.I.A. (an acronym of "Missing in Acton"), is a British rapper, singer, record producer and activist. Her songs contain evocative political and social commentary regarding immigration, warfare and identity in a globalised world. Her music combines elements of alternative, dance, electronic, hip hop and world music with eclectic instruments and samples.
Born in London to Sri Lankan Tamil parents, M.I.A. and her family moved to Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka when she was six months old. As a child, she experienced displacement caused by the Sri Lankan Civil War, which made the family return to London as refugees when M.I.A. was 11 years old; the war had a defining influence on M.I.A.'s artistry. She started out as a visual artist, filmmaker and designer in 2000, and began her recording career in 2002. One of the first acts to come to public attention through the Internet, she saw early fame as an underground artist in early 2004 with her singles "Sunshowers" and "Galang".
M.I.A.'s first two albums, Arular (2005) and Kala (2007), received widespread critical acclaim for their experimentation with hip hop and electronic fusion. The single "Paper Planes" from Kala reached number four on the US Billboard Hot 100 and sold over four million copies. Her third album Maya (2010) was preceded by the controversial single-short film "Born Free". Maya was her best-charting effort, reaching the top 10 on several charts. Her fourth studio album, Matangi (2013), included the single "Bad Girls", which won accolades at the MTV Video Music Awards. M.I.A. released her fifth studio album, AIM, in 2016. She scored her first Billboard Hot 100 number-one single as a featured artist on Travis Scott's "Franchise" (2020).
M.I.A.'s accolades include two American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) awards and two MTV Video Music Awards. She is the first person of South Asian descent to be nominated for an Academy Award and Grammy Award in the same year. She was named one of the defining artists of the 2000s decade by Rolling Stone, and one of the 100 most influential people of 2009 by Time. Esquire ranked M.I.A. on its list of the 75 most influential people of the 21st century. According to Billboard, she was one of the "Top 50 Dance/Electronic Artists of the 2010s". M.I.A. was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2019 Birthday Honours for her services to music.
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