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M.I.A in her new self-directed visual for ‘Borders’
M.I.A in her new self-directed visual for ‘Borders’via Apple Music

M.I.A. criticises the west’s attitude towards refugees

‘You don’t put borders on Apple, you don’t put borders on YouTube, you don’t put borders on MTV’

Earlier this month, M.I.A. unleashed the self-directed video for new track “Borders”, a powerful, politically charged creation that saw the Sri Lankan rapper join a group of refugees as they try and climb wire over fences, huddle up on tiny boats, and travel across the sea. Both the lyrics and video expressed a potent solidarity with those who are fleeing from conflict, with M.I.A. singing, “Borders, what's up with that? Politics, what's up with that? Police shots, what’s up with that?”

In a recent interview with NPR, the artist addressed her feelings surrounding the current refugee crisis, asking why the western world is happy to promote their brands, ideologies and art across the world, but is less inclined when it comes to physical borders. “As a musician, I feel like we are part of promoting ideas to people,” she explains. “Ultimately, we fight to get what we do in the west into the homes and the screens of every single person on the planet, and we want to make money off it. We want to sell 50 million Taylor Swift records to people in Africa… We can’t really blame people when they are ready to embrace it.”

She then raised the question: “If the west is so deliberate in promoting its brands and is using art and culture to inspire people’s dreams, how can the west then turn people away?” adding, “You don’t put borders on Apple, and you don’t put borders on YouTube and you don’t put borders on MTV, so to make the borders even taller (sic), when actually what the creative world’s doing, or the business world’s doing, is actually the opposite, then you’re always going to have this problem.”

In the same interview, she also discussed the experience of fleeing from Sri Lanka to England as a child during a civil war, as well as her love of the cultural diversity that feeds into the UK music scene. “One of the reasons I loved being British at the time was because the music scene was really diverse,” she comments. “I was exposed to hip hop, Jamaican dancehall and house music and drum’n’bass and these kind of things which was all born out of mixing different cultures. That was what England represented to me… It’s how creativity works.”

Listen to the interview in its entirety here and read about how to help the refugee crisis here