M.I.A. Talks Being Controlled by Diplo, a Bad Episode With Oprah, 'Arular' 10 Years Later

M.I.A. performs during the Sasquatch! Music Festival
Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

M.I.A. performs during the Sasquatch! Music Festival at the Gorge Amphitheatre on May 24, 2014 in George, Washington.  

With M.I.A.'s spectacular 2005 debut album Arular turning 10 this weekend, she looked back at the project and her life at that time in an interview with Rolling Stone where she digs deep into her relationship with Diplo, a harsh encounter with Oprah, representing progressive culture-mashing, becoming a target for her outspoken politics on issues such as Sri Lanka's civil war and how the world has changed in a decade. 

Talking about the ramp up to her album, releasing the Piracy Funds Terrorism mixtape with Diplo, getting signed to XL Records, and then finding out she was actually popular in America with an encore at Coachella, M.I.A. points to Diplo as a constant downer to the success she was finding. 

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At once she says, "XL took notice and gave me a record deal, and that was like the most liberating thing on the planet -- to have somebody care that your work is any good, that they would give you a check." And then a few sentences later counters with, "By the time that was happening to me, I was with Diplo and he basically just like shat on every good thing that was happening to me, and I just didn't enjoy it because if I was on a cover of a magazine he'll be like, 'What do you want to do, like be on the dentist waiting room table? Like, is that what a magazine is for? It's corny. Like, don't do magazines.'

She goes on to say that when she signed with Interscope, Diplo "literally smashed my hotel room and broke all the furniture because he was so angry I got picked up by a major label and it was the corniest thing in the world that could possibly happen."

"And then Missy Elliott called me for the first time in 2005 to work with me on her record, and I'm sure we had a massive fight about that -- the fact that I was talking to anyone who was, like, popular," she says. "I wish I enjoyed it because I had this person on my shoulder the whole time saying, 'It's shit, it's shit, it's shit. You shouldn't be on the charts. You shouldn't be in the magazines and you should not be going to interviews. You should not be doing collaborations with famous people. You should be an underground artist.'"

Diplo has recently teamed with Missy Elliott himself via his Jack Ü side project with Skrillex. But at the time, M.I.A. says he was adamant everything coming her way meant she was selling out. 

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"It's only now when I look back at it in 2015, I can see that he was just jealous and he couldn't wait to be Taylor Swift's best friend and date Katy Perry. But at that time I believed him. I just felt like he was right, and he was something of a political, righteous person with some values. I didn't realize it was just jealousy. That actually, the life that I had and the story that I told through my music and the connections I had with people in the music industry and the connections that I made in the streets of London or around the planet and me being the way I am and my personality -- that is what made me make that record. It was really stupid for me to put all that hard work in and evolve as a human being for 25 years and then on the 27th year meet this guy and just give him the batch of controlling it. I think that's what happens to women, you know: You fall in love, and shit happens."

The interview veers away from her's and Diplo's relationship for a while, touching differences between our culture today and 10 years ago that M.I.A. says have been mostly for the worse. Most notably, she says, we are far more divided now than then. Where it once looked that we were headed to a new form of diversity, we have become secluded again and unwelcoming. And this subject, too, brings Diplo back to the conversation, as M.I.A. says it's important to the relationship of the album, "because he's associated to a concept which is global and then what he became is completely the opposite in 10 years."

Despite what reads as resentment to Diplo, a Rolling Stone editor's note points out that the two reconnected the day following M.I.A.'s interview. Diplo posted a photo of the two of them to Instagram, saying "Best friends forever @miamatangi," and she posted an image to Twitter.

But one person she has not reconnected with is Oprah. 

"In 2009, Time nominated me for one of the most influential people of the 21st century or something and I met Oprah at that party," M.I.A. says. "And I was like, 'Hey, people are gonna f----ing die in my country. Like, please pay attention.' And she was like, 'You're shit because you were rude to Lady Gaga and I'm not talking to you. And I'm gonna interview Tom Cruise jumping on my sofa, so f--- off.' ... She didn't talk to me. She shut me down. She took that photo of me, but she was just like, 'I can't talk to you because you're crazy and you're a terrorist.' And I'm like, 'I'm not. I'm a Tamil and there are people dying in my country and you have to like look at it because you're f---ing Oprah and every American told me you're going to save the world.'"

Read the full interview here