M.I.A.

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M.I.A. is an British rapper from Sri Lanka who combines a variety of different styles in her music, between reggae to hip hop. Although she originally meant to pursue art and film while studying at Central St Martins College, she instead became interested in hip hop and rap through friends she met in school. This led to borrowing a Roland MC-505 sequencer/drum machine from one of her friends and recording her first demo album, which included the hit song "Galang." After posting the song online, M.I.A. quickly gained a strong following before ever landing a record deal. Her notoriety online led to British label XL Recordings signing her on, causing the song to climb the U.S. charts to number eight. In 2004, M.I.A. went on to release "Sunshowers," but the album failed to meet the same success as her first record. A year later, she took a step back and drafted a new plan for her music by recording new music in her apartment, now targeting world issues and global oppression through the lyrics. The album was titled Arular, after the last name her father took on when her family moved to Sri Lanka in prior years. As M.I.A. gained a stronger fan base, the musician was invited to collaborate with Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Timberland, while also filming a documentary with Spike Jonze. In 2008, she made headlines for performing at the 2008 Grammy Awards for performing on stage while nine months pregnant, which further promoted her daring and bold image as an artist.