Why M.I.A. Thinks Lady Gaga Is Biting Her Style


Because of a Wale song called “Chillin.” Listen to it (above) and realize–as Ryan Dombal pointed out more than a year ago–that M.I.A. has a pretty solid case here. The context? An interview the singer just gave to NME–which, given the fact that it’s been typed out of a magazine and onto ONTD, and a bit disjointed, let’s hope is real–in which M.I.A. returns, repeatedly, to the irksome subject of Lady Gaga. “She sounds more like me than I fucking do!” M.I.A. tells the magazine. And, even better, vis a vis the video for Gaga’s “Telephone” and the future of the record industry: “Dude, she even plugs a burger! That’s probably how they’re making money right now – buying up the burger joint, putting the burger in a music video and making loads of burger money.” Burger money!

The whole thing is worth a read. The new Sleigh Bells record “epitomises how kids are feeling in America.” M.I.A. is still struggling with immigrations officials: “Every time I breathe it’s documented on my computer and yet I’m still on some stupid list somewhere that says I’m a terrorist.” Ke$ha is ripping off Uffie. And, in answer to a question about selling out in 2010 (a subject dear to our hearts):

Back in 2003 I was in a bedsit, hand-spraying very 12-inch and just wanting to make art. Everybody gets turned into a product push so fast – these weird fucking ‘hipster’ parties promoting Red Bull or whatever. There’s a difference between saying ‘no’ to everything and ‘yes’ to everything. I’m not fucking Coldplay because I said ‘no’ to certain things. When I did my ‘selling-out’ show for MTV they made me a hundred grand and I built a school with it in Africa.

So don’t worry, everyone: M.I.A. is still punk as fuck. The occasion for the interview is her forthcoming record, which is due circa June, and has yet to be titled or totally finalized. It will be interesting to hear her tackle this stuff in song–the economics issues in particular, as she does here, since between records she bore the child of one of the richer families in America. And, among other things, apparently took $100K off MTV. “I don’t want to talk about money,” she says in a snippet from the forthcoming record we may or may not have heard, “’cause I got it.” How that squares with “Money is always the enemy of music,” as she says in this NME interview, will be an interesting thing to unpack. Hopefully, she’ll eventually do it herself on record. It’s gonna be an interesting summer!

M.I.A. interview