Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam, better known by her stage name M.I.A., is a British-Tamil recording artist, songwriter, painter and director. The moniker "M.I.A." is both a play on her own name and a reference to the abbreviation for Missing in Action. Her compositions combine elements of electronic, dance, alternative, hip hop and world music. Arulpragasam began her career in 2000 as a visual artist, filmmaker and designer in west London before beginning her recording career in 2002. Since rising to prominence in early 2004 for her singles "Sunshowers" and "Galang", charting in the UK and Canada and reaching number 11 on the Billboard Hot Dance Singles Sales in the US, she has been nominated for an Academy Award, two Grammy Awards and the Mercury Prize.
She released her début album Arular in 2005 and second album Kala in 2007 both to universal critical acclaim. Arular charted in Norway, Belgium, Sweden, Japan and the US, where it reached number 16 on the Billboard Independent Albums chart and number three on the Dance/Electronic Albums chart. Kala was certified silver in the United Kingdom and gold in Canada and the United States, where it topped the Dance/Electronic Albums chart.