Unknown to many of her fans, M.I.A. suffers from dyslexia. When she first came out in 2004, the singer/rapper wasn't sure she'd even be able to do tours. She started slow with small club and festival gigs and the crowd reaction was very positive. After a standing ovation at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, she realized she was confident enough to play bigger venues.
Although Diplo worked with M.I.A. on three songs, the electronic DJ also bashed the rest of her music. In a 2010 tweet, Diplo praised his own work but expressed doubt about M.I.A.'s upcoming album, writing "it sounds like Skinny Puppy and gives me nightmares."
Shortly after finding herself in trouble for flipping off the camera during the 2012 Super Bowl Halftime Show, M.I.A. also found herself without a partner. In February 2012, M.I.A. split from her boyfriend and father of her son, Benjamin Bronfman. According to Bronfman, the singer went up to six months without seeing her son while recording and going on tour.
In 2001, M.I.A. wanted to be a visual artist rather than a recording artist. She designed the cover for Elastica's final single "The Bitch Don't Work." She was introduced to music production by fellow singer/rapper Peaches and began making her own songs shortly after while on vacation in the Caribbean.
The Los Angeles Dodgers used M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes
" as a rally song during their three week bid to win the 2008 National League West title.
Since its release in 2008, M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" has become one of the most covered rap songs of all time. Rihanna
, Dizzee Rascal, Built to Spill, Holy F--k, The Clientele, and Street Sweeper Social Club have all performed the track in their live shows. In addition, filmmakers Michael Moore and Danny Boyle have used "Paper Planes" prominently in their films.
Following her performance at the MTV Movie Awards after party, M.I.A. donated her $100,000 performance fee to schools in Liberia, saying "it costs $52,000 to build a school for 1,000 kids."
While recording her 2007 album Kala, M.I.A. was refused a long-term work visa to stay in the United States. Instead, she was forced to finish the record in different parts of the world, including India, Jamaica, Australia, Liberia, and Trinidad.
She says her favorite rapper is "Tuggie" - a combination of Tupac and Biggie Smalls.
M.I.A. received an MBE for her services to music during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace on January 14, 2020. In a statement, the hip-hop star said she accepted the honor in tribute to her mother, Kala Pragasam, who for over three decades has hand stitched medals distributed by the palace. Fittingly, the medal that Prince William pinned to M.I.A's chest was one that her mother had made.