Rihanna’s Bad Gal image wouldn’t exist without the iconic Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam, or MIA as she’s most popularly known.
She’s a genius. An authentic musician and artist, way ahead of her time. MIA is one of the first artists to use the vaporwave aesthetic in her videos. By combining so many different influences from various cultures around the globe along with artistic interpretations, her music sends a political statement.
A woman of colour, with Sri Lankan and Tamil origins. Her father was involved in Eelam Revolutionary Organisation of Students (EROS), a political Tamil group affiliated with the LTTE. As a result she spent 11 years of her life in hiding (real bad gal vibez) but moved back to West London later.
Her music is not about generating as much sales as possible, it’s about REAL music. Her music doesn’t fit in the molds of the ‘norm’, i.e. the charts. M.I.A’s music is about pleasing the artistic brain in the listener. Whereas artists such as Rihanna or Katy Perry, or even Lady Gaga are made to appeal to a certain audience. One thing is for sure, she can appeal to the mainstream audience if she really wanted to – we seen that with her Paper Planes tune.
Her visual’s are not only inspiring but extremely creative. In her ‘XXXO’ video, directed by herself, she includes animated web graphics associated with social networking sites as if to mimic the new generations craze of social media. At the end of the video she even writes “Thank you for adding me” which was typical of Facebook and MySpace in 2007/2008. None of this was ever done before.
BUT alas, how you ask, has this 42 year old mother of two contributed to Riri’s savage image?
M.I.A. ‘Boyz’ was released in June 2009 and Rihanna’s ‘Rude boy’ was released in February 2010…
M.I.A.’s ‘Jimmy’ was released in June 2009 and Rihanna’s ‘Where have you been’ was released in April 2012.
Plus I always loved how she incorporated her Asian roots with western culture, so original. I can’t emphasize how different this millennial would have been without her. The amount of artists, hits & sub-cultures that were influenced by M.I.A is crazy. Rihanna is just one.