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M.I.A. Celebrates 10 Years of "Arular," Has Harsh Words for Diplo and Oprah

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Photo: Daniel Sannwald

If you ran into me 10 years ago, chances are high that I had just been/was currently/was about to start listening to M.I.A.'s debut album, Arular. I had never heard anything quite like it before. Beyond the catchy hooks and sick beats, the music was unapologetic in its revolutionary message and global attitude. To celebrate the anniversary of the album that thrust her into the spotlight, she sat down with Rolling Stone, and, in true M.I.A. fashion, did not hold back.

On Arular:

"It's basically a window onto a world where people wanted to put borders and close it and shut it down and were using old methods. We had Bush and Rupert Murdoch-ness that was dividing everybody and saying 'good and evil' and 'axis of evil' and 'these people are like that' and 'those people are like that.' Using very basic language to shut down boundaries. Arular was a really good look at the other kind of part of the world, full of people working against that."

On Diplo, her former boyfriend and collaborator:

"He basically just like sh*t on every good thing that was happening to me...if I was on a cover of a magazine he'll be like, 'What do you want to do, like be on the dentist waiting room table?'...When I got signed by Interscope, he literally smashed my hotel room and broke all the furniture because he was so angry I got picked up by a major label and it was the corniest thing in the world that could possibly happen.


So the whole two years I was with him, I just let him dictate...how everything in America that I experienced was completely, like, irrelevant and it was nothing...It's only now when I look back at it in 2015, I can see that he was just jealous and he couldn't wait to be Taylor Swift's best friend and date Katy Perry. But at that time I believed him. I just felt like he was right, and he was something of a political, righteous person with some values. I didn't realize it was just jealousy."

On Oprah:

"In 2009, Time nominated me for one of the most influential people of the 21st century or something and I met Oprah at that party. And I was like, 'Hey, people are gonna f**king die in my country. Like, please pay attention.' And she was like, 'You're sh*t because you were rude to Lady Gaga and I'm not talking to you. And I'm gonna interview Tom Cruise jumping on my sofa, so f*ck off.'...She shut me down. She...was just like, 'I can't talk to you because you're crazy and you're a terrorist.' And I'm like, 'I'm not. I'm a Tamil and there are people dying in my country and you have to like look at it because you're f**king Oprah and every American told me you're going to save the world.'"

On how things have changed since Arular:

"'Would I happen right now?' is the question. And at that time when Arular happened the world was so much more cultured..It's like we had progression, and now it's like all we have is electronic music. People have to take drugs to pretend they're having a great time, and the world has become way more aggressive and backwards and gentrified...I don't think any new art has brought anything new to the table...What Arular did was something positive. It added color and tones and concepts into arenas where those things weren't everyday things. Those things weren't common."


There's more where that came from: read the full interview.

And, whether you agree with her opinions or not, we can all hopefully agree that this album is still everything:


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