- Mathangi "M.I.A." ArulpragasamBritish-born Sri Lankan rapper and singer. She is said to be the only artist to be nominated for an Academy Award, a Grammy Award, a Brit Award, a Mercury Prize and an Alternative Turner Prize for visual art.
In the hours after pop icon David Bowie died, the political rapper and singer M.I.A. took to Twitter to describe him as “someone who was connected to the source.” In a Democracy Now! exclusive, M.I.A. reflects on Bowie’s life and legacy.
M.I.A. joined Democracy Now! today from a studio in London. Stay tuned for the full interview in the coming days.
AMY GOODMAN: After David Bowie died this weekend, you tweeted, ”RIP David Bowie–someone who was connected to the source.” Talk about what David Bowie’s music meant to you, who David Bowie was for you.
MATHANGI “M.I.A.” ARULPRAGASAM: I first heard David Bowie when I was in art school, because everybody was obsessed with David Bowie. And, in fact, I saw him in the back streets when I went to Saint Martins, and, you know, people were literally crying and falling on the floor. And I didn’t realize the impact of what his music meant, because, you know, I came sort of late '80s, so I didn't know the buildup to his discography. So I took time out to learn about his stuff, and it was incredible, because it was otherworldly.
And it’s an individual who stuck to what—you know, true to themselves, really, and what he was was what he was 'til the end. And I think when you go out on a limb, because what David Bowie did at the time was pretty out there, and in order to have the strength to do that, I think you'd have to be—you know, you’d have to get that confidence from somewhere that is—that is, I don’t know. Maybe it’s otherworldly. Maybe, you know, he was connected to the source.
And I think it’s interesting, you know, nowadays touching on some of those subjects that Bowie contributed to pushing forward is no longer—it’s not shocking, because we’ve already tackled that. And I guess it’s really interesting because this has been—2015 has been the year where people really, you know, took on the concept of gender and defining what that is, or maybe not defining what that is and eradicating the definitions and opening up the concept of what gender is. And, you know, obviously, like, “transgender” became like the buzzword of 2015. And it’s really interesting that, you know, he saw that and got to the end of that journey, and in his lifetime that that happened.