British rapper, singer-songwriter and visual artist M.I.A. played Pohoda back in 2011. The amazing show she put on was the main reason why we wanted to have her play our festival again. She herself added a couple of good arguments, too: excellent albums Matangi (2013) and AIM (2016) on which she collaborated with producers such as Blaqstarr, Diplo and Skrillex; two MTV Video Music Awards for track “Bad Girls” (2012); the 2016 Q Award for Innovation in Sound and the 2017 NME Award for Best British Female Artist. Her concert at Pohoda 2017 is part of M.I.A.’s AIM Tour.
M.I.A. combines electro, reggae, R&B, rock, hip hop, grime, rap and Asian folk music. In this varied mix of genres, she takes inspiration from the likes of Missy Elliott, Lou Reed, The Pixies, Timbaland, Beastie Boys, Björk, The Clash, but also Boney M, A. R. Rahman or pop icons Michael Jackson and Madonna. Her lyrics contain social commentary on consumerism, conditions of working class, sexual stereotypes, politically motivated violence and symbols of urban areas, revolution and ethnic conflicts. The collection of prestigious nominations M.I.A. received contains 49 items, out of which she actually turned one fifth into awards. She’s the only artist of Asian origin to get nominated for a Grammy Award and an Academy Award in the same year. There is also no other artist that would have a combination of an Academy Award, Grammy Award, Brit Award, Mercury Prize and Alternative Turner Prize nomination under their belt. Her albums Arular (#52) and Kala (#9) made it to 100 Best Albums of the 2000s according to Rolling Stone. The same magazine also named her as one of the eight artists who defined this decade (Bruce Springsteen, Radiohead, Kanye West, Beyoncé, Arcade Fire, M.I.A., Jack White and U2). In December 2009, in an article written for The Guardian, critic Simon Reynolds named her as an artist of the decade.
She recorded her first demo featuring tracks such as “Lady Killa”, “M.I.A.” and “Galang” in 2003. The songs spread through college radio airplay, sharing on the Internet and became popular in dance clubs, what made M.I.A. an underground sensation. In 2005, she released her debut Arular (the name her father adopted as a political activist). The critically-acclaimed album was nominated for a Mercury Prize and was the seventh best reviewed record of 2005. The average score of 88 points from Metacritic makes it the 9th Best-Reviewed Electronic/Dance album of the decade 2000 – 2010. The follow-up album Kala released in 2007 ranks number 10 in this chart. This album (this time named after her mother) features more elements influenced by Asian folk music or soundtracks to Tamil films, which gives it more of an avant-garde tinge. “Boyz” was her first single that made it to Top 10 in the US charts. The album also features her most successful track “Paper Planes” described as a “satire on immigrant stereotypes.” The song was nominated for a Grammy Award (Record of the Year) and is one of the Top 30 most downloaded tracks by a British artist in the US and the seventh best-selling song by a British artist in the digital era.
In 2008, she founded her own label N.E.E.T. Recordings. In the same year, she also collaborated with Indian composer A. R. Rahman, composed songs for the film Slumdog Millionaire and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. In 2009, she was nominated for a Brit Award (Best British Female Artist). She released her third album Maya (stylized as /\/\ /\ Y /\) in 2010. She described the album in an interview for Dazed & Confused as a mix of “babies, death, destruction and powerlessness.” Maya refers to her name and is her most successful album in charts to date. In 2011, she put on an amazing show at our festival. At the beginning of 2012, she released her song “Bad Girls” from her fourth album. The video for this track won two MTV Video Music Awards and received another Grammy nomination. Her fourth album Matangi is according to M.I.A. a follow up to and a combination of its predecessors. In September 2016, she released her fifth album titled AIM and received a Q Award in the category of Innovation in Sound.
On February 8, she released her latest track “P.O.W.A.”. The song and the video with its exceptional captivating visuals again criticizes today’s political situation, specifically, building of walls by the current US President. A few days after the release, she won the 2017 NME Award for Best British Female Artist when she received more votes in the public poll than the likes of Adele, PJ Harvey, or Dua Lipa. We’re glad that after Solange, Birdy, Austra, Dillon or the local Katka Máliková, we have another distinctive female name from the contemporary music scene to add to Pohoda 2017’s bill: M.I.A.