What M.I.A. Teaches Me About Myself (even if she does offend Americans)

10 Feb

If you know me, you know that I have a healthy obsession with the rapper/artist, M.I.A. If you haven’t heard of her by now, you really live under a rock. Her most well-known stunts are her hit, Paper Planes, making the sound track to Slumdog Millionaire, and flipping the bird at the Super Bowl. If you pay a bit more attention to the news, then you might remember the controversy of her video “Born Free” which depicts the story of a fictional red-head-freckle-faced-people genocide.

A lot of people may not understand what there is to like about M.I.A. “She’s weird” “She’s rude” “Her voice is horrible” etc. But what you cannot discredit her about is the fact that her WHOLE CAREER stands for something.

M.I.A. is a Sri Lankan refugee who lives in England (which is more lenient about offensive material… flipping the bird in the UK wouldn’t get this kind of response). She began making music to give a voice to those who don’t have a voice. Specifically, her Tamil people who continuously experience genocide in Sri Lanka. Her latest single, Bad Girls, hints at the inequality happening in Saudi Arabia concerning women and their ability to drive cars. No matter how much you hate her voice or think she’s strange, you cannot deny that her guts to take a stand is admirable (even risking immigration penalties like being banned from entering the US for a bit). Which is why she’s so adored by some of your favourite rappers and musicians (“Pull up in that Tonka, color of Willy Wonka with a bad chick who came from Sri Lanka…” and let’s not forget Jay-Z’s “no one on the corner has swagga like us” sample. Oh, and of course, Madonna).

What does this have to do with my search for self-discovery? Well, something else about M.I.A. that cannot be denied is her incredible swag. I cannot define it. I cannot explain it. You just have to SEE it. Swag over-load. I watched interviews with her to maybe get a glimpse to see where all that swag comes from. Its evident that she’s just… being herself.

And I think the confidence she has to just be herself might be fueled by the fact that she’s backed up by a cause that matters. It’s easier to be yourself when you have a purpose for your life and for your goals. It’s easier to be unapologetic about who you are when you stand for something.

How do you know what you stand for, though? Stay tuned for more self-exploration insights. With that, love muffins, I leave you with this bad ass music video:


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