The Essential Legacy of M.I.A.

Her Brownness was palatable to the industry and their persistent search for a fresh eclectic star — but her politics were not.

Meher Manda

July 14, 2020

The Essential Legacy of M.I.A.
M.I.A. at a 2014 concert in Paris. (Coup d'Oreille/Flickr)

As the world was beginning to grapple with the seriousness of COVID-19 in March — rapper M.I.A. took to Twitter to issue a strong diktat against vaccinations. “If I have to choose the vaccine or chip [sic],” she declared, “I’m gonna choose death.”

To come out as an anti-vaxxer is a questionable choice at any moment, but is particularly misguided at a time when the healthcare system is under duress. M.I.A. later elaborated, “I’m not against vaccines. I’m against companies who care more for profit then [sic] humans. I care for better track record that proves this. I care that African countries are not always the testing ground. I don’t want it coming from banks / tech / hedge fund sector and I want a choice.”

Backlash against the musician began pouring in almost immediately. She was called “irresponsible and reckless” for erroneously linking 5G technology to the coronavirus outbreak. M.I.A. hit out at her detractors, tweeting, “Cancelling is irrelevant.” British Vogue allegedly canceled a feature of the singer that was slated for its August issue.