Missy Elliott, Remy Ma, and Lil' Kim
In celebration of women's history month, we're spotlighting 31 great female MCs over 31 days. (left to right) Getty Images for BE, WireImage/Getty Images (2)


Day 27: M.I.A.

M.I.A. stands out with her versatility. The UK artist has curated an impressive four-album catalog by laying down rhymes of real-life, hard hitting issues and events over a range of sonic flavors.

Blaqqstarr: "The first song we did was 'What I Got.' Our first conversation was beautiful. We just listened to music, vibes and the next thing you know we started to work. We started working before talking about business details. We were going though a time portal of music. We were listening to tracks from India [and] from different parts of the world and study its elements."

"We'd work from the studio that was in the back of her house. It was connected to her house. We'd stay days in the studio just exploring sounds. We'd work on music and later decide where they'd go."

"/\/\ /\ Y /\"
M.I.A.: "It really seemed like my world was getting smaller and closing in around me at the same time that things were changing so fast. I couldn't keep up with it. It was the best year for me because my son was born and the worst year for me seeing so many Tamil people being killed. And then it was the best year for me because I found someone to settle down with, then the worst year because I couldn't leave [due to visa restrictions] and my mum couldn't come and see me. My album came out like that because that's how it was." (2010)

"When I was like, 'I want Hype to shoot the video,' everybody was like, 'No way-he's a nightmare!' But he was amazing to work with… It was interesting to take someone like Hype and mash him up with my aesthetic, just because it's so far removed. Sometimes when you do that you get some interesting shit, and I think the 'XXXO' video is going to be the perfect balance of both worlds."

Diplo: "We did a record called "Tell Me Why," and I just knew what she was good at. It wasn't the same bunch of noise or talking about politics, because that's stuff people had heard. I wanted her to do something where she was singing and doing something louder, like Animal Collective-style music, because I think that's where she shines best." (2010)

M.I.A.: "I was confused by who to make music for, what to make music for. It was becoming really saturated and predictable. I wanted to break out of it. Suddenly it was like, 'Okay, I'm going to make this album for Matangi. I found a whole new way of looking at [music] – somebody saying it's so important they made a goddess for it who protected the meaning of music, the frequencies, the sonics. To learn about that and take it out of the context I'm in, it was pretty dope. It's making music without treating it as a business or as a game or as a competition."

"It's a bit emo in places. I developed a little emo side. Didn't think it was possible, did you?" (2013)

M.I.A.'s Influence
Rye Rye: "She stepped up out of the box to try different things. I had support from her; it was great to have her backing me. When she brought me along, her fan base rubbed off on me as well. We weren't afraid to be different. As a brand-new artist, I knew nothing about the industry, I was just trying it out. Working with her pushed me to go forward with it." (2010)

"M.I.A. was there with me every day from when I started recording my album ['Go! Pop! Bang!] to when I finished. She was pregnant then, but each day she'd come to the studio to lay the direction and add sounds into songs."

Blaqqstar: "She's ineffable; so divine you can't even put into words. Our energies transcended through music. Every clap [and] every sound, we'd just originally produce through sessions. We didn't plan any recording."

NEXT: Lil Kim

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