Birthday: July 18, 1975 (Cancer)
Born In: Hounslow, United Kingdom
Mathangi ‘Maya’ Arulpragasam, better known as M.I.A., is a British rapper, singer-songwriter, and producer of Sri Lankan Tamil descent. Starting her career as a visual artist, she got into documentary filmmaking and fashion designing before she started a career in music. Famous for her compositions that combine elements of dance, alternative, hip-hop, and world music, she has 49 award nominations to her credit so far. M.I.A is the first artist in history to be nominated for the five major awards—Academy, Grammy, Brit, Mercury Prize and Alternative Turner Prize—and also the first artist of Asian descent to be nominated for the Academy and Grammy in the same year. While her early works relied heavily on the Roland MC-505 sequencer and drum machine, her later compositions featured rare instruments, electronics, and sounds from around the world. Her opinion and comments on the oppression of Sri Lankan Tamils, African Americans and Palestinians has drawn praise as well as criticism, leading to the US restricting her entry into the country. Her albums also reveal her strong political ideologies. She supports a number of charities and raises funds to help youth come out of violence and poverty in war-torn Africa. In Liberia, she supported school-building projects, and rehabilitation of former child soldiers. While ‘Rolling Stone’ named her as one of the defining artists of the 2000s, ‘Time’ magazine named her as one of the world's 100 most influential people in 2009.