I recently had the opportunity to watch a biographical documentary on the Sri Lankan musician M.I.A. Growing up I had always looked up to M.I.A for various reasons. In fact, I think many South Asian’s who grew up in the 2000’s did as well. I remember watching her music video for “Galang” playing on MTV and realizing that it was one of the first times I had seen any South Asian representation on TV and in music. I also looked up to her for her activism and how she used her music as a platform to express a message about the many injustices that were taking place around the world and to provide a refreshing take on the immigrant and refugee narrative.
The documentary did an amazing job in compiling personal footage from her youth and journey within the music industry and provided an amazing insight into the inspiration and message behind her music. M.I.A created amazing and catchy music that was appreciated around the world which led to her popularity and fame. The film shows an aspect of her career and life that the industry was trying to hide. It demonstrated her upbringing as a refugee in the UK as well her family’s involvement in the Sri Lankan Civil War. Seeing her experiences and activism demonstrated the difficulty of being in the industry and trying to create something different or against what was considered normal. It showed how M.I.A chose not to be just another artist in the industry by creating alternative music that promoted an alternative message.
Below is a playlist of my favourite M.I.A songs