M.I.A. in action

M.IA., the initials and stage name of artist Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasm, are far from ‘missing in action.’ On the contrary, the singer, filmmaker, visual artist, recognized philanthropist and overall “beautiful person,” according to People magazine (she refused to accept the offer, responding that “Mother Teresa was never on the most beautiful people list”), can’t seem to stay out of action. Since skyrocketing to popularity in 2004 with singles “Sunshowers” and “Galang” the artist has embraced the music world with an innovative electronic sound, audible in her first two albums Arular, released in 2005, and Kala, released in 2007.

And she didn’t stop there. In 2007, M.I.A. found a new level of worldwide fame when the release of her single “Paper Planes” had music lovers everywhere chanting, “I fly like paper, get high like planes.” The popularity of this song drew in an adoring fanbase, a fanbase that found her third and self-titled album, Maya, released in 2010, to be disorganized and tuneless in comparison to the her previous hits. But with M.I.A.’s effortlessly cool exterior and tendency to never withhold a personal opinion, the music world can’t deny its love for her. The progressive artist gave listeners something to think about with the release of her newest single, posted online Oct. 22, presenting the world with a new catchphrase: “Y.A.L.A, You Always Live Again,” a response to the mantra “Y.O.L.O, You Only Live Once,” popularized by rapper Drake in his song “The Motto.” According to the lyrics of “Y.A.L.A.,” in the world of Maya, you get more than one life and one chance: “back home where I come from we keep being born again and again and then again and again.” While Maya released “Come Walk With Me,” the first single of her fourth album, Matangi, the bold sentiment of “Y.A.L.A” will be the backbone of her newest LP, set for release Nov. 5 and currently available for preorder. The release is nearly a year late due to rumored disagreements between M.I.A. and Universal Records, but if “Y.A.L.A.” is any representation of the album, the artist only further proves her individuality in sound and attitude.

The English-born and Sri Lanka-bred singer manifests her worldly and evocative voice in Matangi, recorded around the globe in New York, London, Los Angeles and other major cities. At 38, M.I.A. is in no rush to slow down. Working on the pending release of a documentary about the artistic genius and creativity behind Matangi there will be no shortage of M.I.A. action in the coming months. The artist prides herself for keeping fans on their feet, as she pronounces in “Y.A.L.A.,” “Y.O.L.O … if you only live once, why we keep doing the same s***?”. Doing the same thing she will not; M.I.A. will continue to pave the untraveled path.