‘Matangi/Maya/M.I.A.’ Proves We Need More Political Pop Stars

Listen before Homeland Security takes this down.

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M.I.A.
Maya Arulpragasam, international music star and activist M.I.A., is the subject of a new film by Stephen Loveridge. Photo: Interscope Records, via Noisey.

For this episode of The Scene, I’m joined by film director Stephen Loveridge. Loveridge is a longtime collaborator with the singer and activist Maya Arulpragasam — better known as M.I.A. And in his new documentaryMatangi/Maya/M.I.A., he charts the life of his friend as she goes from a young Sri Lankan refugee in England to a worldwide pop star.

Steve Loveridge
Director Stephen Loveridge

In our interview, Loveridge goes in depth about what it took to make this film, which he shot and assembled from hundreds of hours of footage from Arulpragasam’s life. Far from a typical Behind the Music-style profile, the film focuses less on M.I.A., the singer, and more on Maya, the person. Despite the success of songs like “Paper Planes,” she never loses sight of her central mission of social justice — even when it means attracting the ire of the media and the suspicions of the US Department of Homeland Security.

Having seen the film, I can attest that the final product is an illuminating look at an artist who has long brought an exciting creativity and global consciousness to the music industry. Look for the film to receive a full theatrical release in the coming months.

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