M.I.A., the 34-year-old MC whose breakthrough hit sampled handgun fire, added to her street cred in a recent interview where she claims to have hung out with the late West Coast hip-hop star Tupac Shakur.
“I was always going out to L.A. because my cousin lived there, and she knew all the Bloods and Crips,” M.I.A. tells Nylon. “So I was hanging out with her, having crazy times, and then I’d come back and be like, ‘I hung out with Tupac last week!’ and nobody knew who he was!”
And while M.I.A., aka Maya Arulpragasam, has professed her love for hardcore American rap before, the fact that she was hanging tough in hip-hop’s heyday is something of a revelation.
In the wide-ranging piece from the magazine’s June/July issue, M.I.A. also raises a wary eyebrow at privacy on the Internet. “Google and Facebook were developed by the CIA, and when you’re on there, you have to know that,” she opines. “Everyone on the Internet is like, ‘Oh my God, come and join Facebook!’ They’re all so optimistic… and really, everyone is fucking you up behind the screens. And I don’t like that.It makes it difficult for me to interact with my fans knowing that.”
Regardless of what she feels about the Internet, it’s abuzz with chatter about her forthcoming third album, MAYA (out July 13), and its shocking video for “Born Free.”
“She proudly proclaims her intentions as a first-world pop star, de-emphasizing found collage and ‘third-world democracy’ for melodic sway and punky bluster (aided by familiar producers Switch, Blaqstarr, and Diplo, plus newbies Rusko and Sleigh Bells’ Derek Miller),” SPIN’s Charles Aaron writes in his 4.5-out-of-5 star MAYA review. “On the Suicide-sampling fuzzbomb ‘Born Free’ (which was reduced to witless agitprop by Romain Gavras’ hamhanded video) she asserts: ‘I don’t wanna talk about money / ‘Cause I got it / I don’t wanna talk about hoochies / ‘Cause I been it.’ “
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