The ABCs of M.I.A.

Annie Zaleski

A: Arular, her 2005 debut CD; also the name of her father.

B: Bollywood, the popular segment of Indian cinema from which the string-laden disco single “Jimmy” comes.

C: Civil war, which eventually drove her family out of Sri Lanka, the country of her heritage.

D: Diplo, the DJ/co-mastermind of her underground mix-tape hit, Piracy Funds Terrorism.

E: Elastica, a British band whose album The Menace features M.I.A.’s artwork.

F: Fine art and film, two things she studied in college.

G: “Galang,” her first single—a Technicolor mish-mash of clanging electro, dancehall and reggae.

H: Hip-hop, the style of music that permeated M.I.A.’s formative listening years; still a heavy influence on her music and aesthetic.

I: Interscope, her U.S. label.

J: Jonathan Richman, whose legendary song “Roadrunner” she slices and dices on the song “Bamboo Banga.”

K: Kala, her 2007 album; also the name of her mother.

L: London, where she was born and eventually raised, after stops in India and Sri Lanka.

M: Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam, her real name.

N: No. 18, the position at which Kala debuted on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart.

O: Opening act, which M.I.A. has been for Gwen Stefani and Bjork.

P: Peaches, the electro-punk who reportedly steered M.I.A. toward her Roland MC-505 sequencer/synth/MIDI machine.

Q: Questioning the norm, which she does with her politically tinged, war-charged, self-leaning lyrics.

R: Revolutionary, of which her father was one in Sri Lanka—specifically, he was part of a Tamil militant group called EROS.

S: Steve Mackey, Pulp’s bassist and co-producer of “Galang.”

T: Timbaland, who included the M.I.A.-featuring song “Come Around” on some versions of his album Shock Value.

U: URB magazine, which named M.I.A. its 2005 artist of the year.

V: Video, something else she studied in college, and an art which she’s explored over the years.

W: “Where Is My Mind?,” the Pixies song whose lyrics are quoted in Kala’s “20 Dollar.”

X: “XR2,” a sultry, glitchy Peaches-like electro-hop song on Kala.

Y: Can’t think of one ... so it’s M.I.A.

Z: Zig-Zag, the record label she started.

M.I.A. > Saturday, 6:45 p.m., Jokers Wild Stage.

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