What Is It: A cut off M.I.A.'s Piracy Funds Terrorism mixtape and initially scrapped track from her 2005 debut album Arular
Probably one of the most carefree songs in her career, "U.R.A.Q.T." brought a super-saucy Maya delivering bold, tongue-in-cheek lyrics about a QT she's hot for ("Could it be that me and he / Are tighter than R. Kelly in his teens?") and making sure jealous ladies stay away. The song wasn't initially released on the U.S. version of Arular after her record label, XL Records, had trouble clearing the a sample from Quincy Jones' "Sanford and Son Theme (The Streetbeater)" song.
What Is It: The opening track to the Slumdog Millionaire: Music from the Motion Picture soundtrack
While everyone knew "Jai Ho" from Slumdog Millionaire, "O...Saya" was another stunning track off the landmark film. India's musical genius A.R. Rahman matched his Eastern classical music sound to M.I.A.'s bold delivery for a cut that is equal parts dynamic as it is haunting.
What Is It: The final track on Missy Elliott's 2005 album The Cookbook
M.I.A. has been a longtime lover of dancehall music, and her feature on the album closer to The Cookbook displays an appreciation for the culture without wrongly appropriating it. Her laid back accented flow pairs well with Vybz Kartel’s aggressive tone and Missy’s quirky nature.
What Is It: M.I.A.'s 2008 collaboration with the Portuguese dance act
Buraka Som Sistema was Portugal's brilliant dance music collective that stood out for mixing techno, African beats and carnival music. M.I.A. was quick to find the group and make this blazing banger before they won a MTV Europe Music Award later that year.
What Is It: Track No. 18 on the Vicki Leekx mixtape
Maya's Vicki Leekx mixtape was released on the final day of 2010 and, boy, did it end the year with a bang. There were loads of exciting sonic lanes explored on the tape, particularly with "You My Love." The hypnotic chant of a track seemed to hint into the singer-rapper's personal life ("Every time I see you, I'm on the rebound" she slurs) that gets mixed with her metaphors about the Internet and technology.
What Is It: A cut off The Partysquad Summer Mixtape from 2014
This track is a melting pot of wacky synths, ragga-tinged beats, vibrant horns and sharp whistles that will make your booty bounce as soon as the bass drops. M.I.A’s woozy and carefree feature where she boasts “I’m queen of the east" is the perfect accompaniment to the Dutch DJ’s club track. It’s yet another example that she can ride any beat thrown at her, no matter how wild they are.
What Is It: A cut off her 2004 mixtape Piracy Funds Terrorism and bonus track off Arular
Piracy Funds Terrorism was M.I.A.'s initial musical breakout moment with the hour-long mix that she created alongside Diplo, marking the initial beginnings of what would become her debut album Arular. "Lady Killa" was one of those initial tracks with a beat that still knocks more than a decade later.
What Is It: A leaked collaboration track between M.I.A. and former protégé Rye Rye
Maya signed Baltimore rapper Rye Rye and brought her under wing to be the next big rapper to compete with Nicki Minaj. While the two collaborated multiple times, one of the special gems if "Tic Toc," which leaked as Rye was recording her debut album. It was never officially released, but remains a quirky, internationally-minded cut between the daring divas.
What Is It: Track 11 on 2010’s Vicki Leekx mixtape
A lot of sounds get lost in the rapper’s Vicki Leekx mixtape since its filled with 20 dizzying tracks, but one of the standouts is “Gen N-E-Y.” The lead-up to “Bad Girls” is an AutoTune-heavy trip where M.I.A. Shows once again that she has zero fucks to give. "Generation N E Y we're already dead / If you don't give a fuck then I don't give a damn / But down with the scene that makes it so numb,” she warbles over maddening, industrial beats.