M.I.A. covers the latest issue of Paper magazine, but please hold all “Paper Planes” puns. For the November issue, the outspoken “Bad Girl” dons a custom-made money-print top while holding a parrot (of course). She rocks a Versace jacket and jewelry by Tom Manaton for the spread, while giving us her now signature M.I.A. mudra: the double middle finger. The rapper opens up to the mag about the inspiration for her upcoming fourth album Mathangi, her new art coffee table book M.I.A. and that time she flipped off everyone during the Super Bowl Halftime show.
On giving the middle finger during the Super Bowl: “I feel like people being reactionary to what I do is really on them, not on me. The media freaking out is always going to happen. It’s cultural, you know. If I stick a middle finger up in England, it’s not shocking there. It’s shocking here.”
On the evolution of her music: ”The first album is about dealing with these voiceless people in the jungle in Sri Lanka. The second one was the same situation, just extending it out to the rest of the world…and putting them on the map. The last one was me engaging with the Internet because that’s how our generation deals with shit now.”
On the inspiration for the title of her upcoming LP, Mathangi: “Matangi was the goddess of knowledge and the arts–music, art, dancing, spoken word. When they invented this mythology 4,000 years ago, the concept of someone being about all those things was normal.” She explains that the goddess’ mantra is “AIM” (or M.I.A., spelled backwards) and her mudra is, in fact, the middle finger.
On what she’s most proud of: “I always stayed true to myself. Even on my last album when I got criticized, I knew I was sticking to something I needed to stick to. Whatever the consequences that led me to that point, the concept of somebody who fights for the truthfulness of words was my thing — telling the story, getting it out, questioning it. Information — that’s what I fought for.”
Read the full interview here.