Political activism via an electrohip-hop/bhangra soundclash
1 Pull Up The People Arular (2005)
Staccato bedlam dominates in this sparse, edgy, electrohip-hop curio. “Pull up the poor!” she intones, setting out her mission statement, forever.
2 Galang Arular (2005)
Springy, playful, squelchy, electro-beat stunner, co-written by one-time Elastica singer Justine Frischmann and Pulp’s Steve Mackey. Like a 21st- century Bow Wow Wow.
3 Bucky Done Gun Arular (2005)
Explosive, trumpeting, dancehall rumpus featuring producer Diplo’s Brazilian favela atmospherics. “London,” she roars, “quieten down I need to make a sound!”
4 Paper Planes Kala (2007)
The Clash’s immortal Straight To Hell shimmers back to the cultural frontline amid gun shots, cash registers and delirious kids’ chanting. It remains M.I.A.’s biggest hit.
5 Jimmy Kala (2007)
Swooning dancefloor head-spinner, with demented strings. A reworked version of a track originally on the soundtrack to 1982 Bollywood film Disco Dancer. Bonkers.
6 Born Free Maya (2010)
Frenetic punk-rap dissonance. The video, featuring ginger kids shot in the desert as a metaphor for violence against minorities, is temporarily banned by YouTube.
7 Bad Girls Matangi (2013)
Banghra hip-hop banger. Video features cars careering on two wheels, in the desert. “Live fast, die young, bad girls do it well,” mewls a high-glam M.I.A., tantalisingly.
8 Bring The Noize Matangi (2013)
Rollicking rush of hiphop chaos, celebrating “freak-d-d-d-d-d-dem!” Ends with the Janis Joplin line, “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” Mental.
9 Freedun A.I.M. (2016)
“I’m a swagga man, rollin’ in my swagga van, from the People’s Republic of Swaggastan…” coos M.I.A., while mellow vocals join in from One Direction escapee Zayn Malik.
10 Borders A.I.M. (2016)
Simple, wiggly, Easterntinged rumination on today’s most pressing political issue: borders, police shots, privilege, boat people. “What’s up with that?” M.I.A. wants to know, reasonably.