Ain’t no junk in her trunk

M.I.A. says in an Urb magazine interview that she took a lot of flak for licensing ‘Galang’ for a Honda Civic ad:

Ahh, fake hipster outrage keeps me warm at night. Our own Sajit (Gandhi, not Ghandi) defends the TV spot in the story. The title’s a little familiar, too:

Read the whole thing.

Update: Another mag cover (thanks, Amardeep). Spin, spin, spin.

Related posts: Ga-ching-a-ching-a-ching, Lolita Was a Man Eatah

48 thoughts on “Ain’t no junk in her trunk

  1. This girl is funny. She’s so… so… exotic LOL. Since when do they have people living in mud huts in the UK? This girl is just a spoiled Brittish brat. As far as I know, she wasn’t born in SL, and hasn’t spent all that much time there…

  2. There may be plenty of arguments for putting your music in an ad, but I’m not sure “I used to be poor” is a very compelling one. Especially if you are no longer poor, but are in fact a pop star.

    I still love her music, though. Even if the message is no longer “down with the man,” but “down with man, but also, buy the man’s hondas”

  3. Why isn’t it a compelling argument? Entrepreneurs always say growing up poor taught them the value of thrift. The feeling of economic insecurity doesn’t just disappear.

    Also, labels are notorious for screwing artists and delaying payments, plus she’s only been a hot artist for a year or so. There’s no telling how much liquid cash she actually has been paid yet.

    The Civic is a pretty unmutinous car, though.

  4. I love the obvious silliness of having a disagreement over getting paid to be the soundtrack to a car commercial… She mentioned Diplo licensing a song from his Florida album — a commercial for one of those “mini” (haha) SUV type joints made by Suzuki or Subaru or something.

  5. Since when do they have people living in mud huts in the UK? This girl is just a spoiled Brittish brat. As far as I know, she wasn’t born in SL, and hasn’t spent all that much time there.

    She was born in Sri Lanka, fled, and later became a refugee in the UK.

  6. The Civic is a pretty unmutinous car, though.

    says YOU. it’s fuel-efficiency is/was positively scandalous during the age of the SUV. mutinies are anti-elitist and for everyone with a conscience, i.e. CIVIC-drivers.

  7. This girl is funny. She’s so… so… exotic LOL. Since when do they have people living in mud huts in the UK? This girl is just a spoiled Brittish brat. As far as I know, she wasn’t born in SL, and hasn’t spent all that much time there…

    The “LOL” filled me with enough foreboding that I knew the rest of your comment would suck diggler. I’m almost certain that you don’t read blogs for the following reason:

    1) You missed M.I.A.’s SRI LANKAN, war-torn, refugee-in-the-BriTish projects backstory which was on every ****.blogspot.com

    2) You make unsubstantiated comments. The greatest thing about blogging is the “put up or shut up” rule. If you don’t have a link to back up your words, your words are worthless.

    As far as you know she wasn’t born or a resident there? Well, considering you don’t know how to spell BRITISH, your knowledge of pretty much everything else is suspect.

  8. Sajit, she was actually born in the UK, moved back with her family to Sri Lanka, and then lived there for almost 10 years before fleeing back to the UK as a refugee

    (well, that’s the short story).

  9. Why isn’t ["I used to be poor"] a compelling argument?

    Saying “I used to be poor” might help explain why someone values money. But that person must still take responsibility for how she chooses to earn her money. (Unless she really doesn’t have any choices, which is not the case here.)

    MIA says, “I don’t have the privilege” to say no to such a heaping pile of dough, as if she sold her moral agency to Honda along with her song. She’s just trying to dodge responsibility, I think.

    I don’t think selling the song was a mortal sin. I just think it’s jarring when you consider her musical persona is all about righteousness and integrity. But it’s not so jarring if you just think: it’s a silly pop song in a silly ad.

    Of course, I might feel different about all this if I had grown up poor.

  10. The Civic is a pretty unmutinous car, though.

    says YOU. it’s fuel-efficiency is/was positively scandalous during the age of the SUV. mutinies are anti-elitist and for everyone with a conscience, i.e. CIVIC-drivers.

    Exactly. WTF is wrong with you people? Why are we even having this sturm und drang debate about a freakin’ Civic commercial? Yes, I drive one sometimes (not mine), and if I ever did buy a car, you bet my first choice would either be a used Civic, or if I could afford it, a Toyota Prius. I’m not a particular MIA fan at all, but this is ridiculous. Civics have been rated the most earth-friendly car for years and years and years now. They are as mutinous as it gets. If there’s actually a Sri Lankan connection, all the better.

    And also, we have NO IDEA how much money she makes or has, pop-star or not. IF she’s making any, it’s probably more on ticket sales and less on albums.

  11. But it’s not so jarring if you just think: it’s a silly pop song in a silly ad.

    by a pretty silly artist who’s music is pretty silly i might add.

    but seriously, all this talk over a frickin honda commercial?! what’s the ruckus about? the fact that she sold out (a hilarious concept anyway, every artist “sells out” and they all take themselves so seriously) or the fact that she sold out to a honda commercial? if it’s the latter, she would’ve been better off stressing the point our mutineers are making (i.e. great earth friendly car, nothing to be ashamed of) instead of going with the lame “i grew up in a hut” line.

  12. I agree w/ Manish and Saheli… more power to MIA. Getting her song placed in a commercial or movie brings home some cash, and I don’t believe she’s compromising herself in any way. Keep in mind it’s really not that much money we’re talking about folks, especially compared to how much a multinational corporation like Honda spends worldwide on marketing and advertising. It’s just a drop in the bucket.

    Not to mention, almost every smart & savvy musician understands the business imperative of seeking new ways to reach a wider audience… if even 1% of the people who see the Honda ad bother to look up MIA and buy her CD or download her tracks, what the hell is wrong with that? I would love to have my own music placed in a Honda ad, as would many other musicians I know. (I’d probably draw the line on a Hummer, though.)

  13. mutinous: 1. Of, relating to, engaged in, disposed to, or constituting mutiny. See Synonyms at insubordinate…

    insubordinate: Not submissive to authority [Link]

    [The Civic] has been the best selling retail compact car for the past nine years. [Link]

    mutinous: 3. Turbulent and uncontrollable [Link]

    <

    blockquote>Accelerating from zero to 60 took 12 seconds which by today’s standards is about as slow as it gets. [Link]

    … the warmed-up Civic is no drag strip superstar… Embarrassingly, even HondaÂ’s own Odyssey will leave the Si sucking spent gasses. [Link]

  14. Licensing the song to Honda is just for money. No BS should be involved. Just money. Also, MIA herself did not do it – her licensing deal and publishing deal with Interscope is what made it happen. How do you get your song on a car commerical? – your publisher is responsible for that, not the artist.

  15. I will gladly sell my music to to play in a Hummer commercial. On that note, I’d sell anything that I own to anybody for any price. Any takers for my soul?

  16. This must have been her train of thought for this decision.

    Make people I will never ever ever ever ever meet personally and will not pay my bills if I need them to, happy or I should take the money and have a great life and maybe make my families life a little easier.

    That must of been a tough one to make. She didnt sell the secret codes to launch nuclear warheads but she did sell a song that contained the worlds Galang galang galang in it so get over it.

  17. The Civic is a pretty unmutinous car, though.

    White Honda Civics were the cars of choice for Tamil gangsters in Toronto back in the gang warfare days of the late 90s.

    All the tamil wangsters I knew also drove Civics.

  18. insubordinate: Not submissive to authority [Link]

    [The Civic] has been the best selling retail compact car for the past nine years. [Link]</i>
    

    Yes, if you’re smart enough to buy a compact car, you’ll buy the best. But the problem is, most Americans these days don’t do that. :-p

    Hopefully that’s changing.

  19. i don’t think MIA sold out at all. she took the money for an ad that didn’t bother her. and we already see her fans coming to her defense.

    some people well say “oh it’s a honda civic commercial, it’s harmless.” ultimately, even if she sold her song to big tobacco or smith and wesson, it’s hard to say she “sold out” if 1.) she can sleep at night with her decision and 2.) she cares about her fans and thought about whether her decision would alienate the majority of them. selling out is in the eye of the beholder and shouldn’t be an automatic conclusion anytime the artist or their productions go mainstream. it’s that f’in hipster snobbery that pisses me off, that as soon as some subculture hits the mainsteam its value is lost.

    tony montana, lil kim, etc hit it on the head (Lox – Money, Power, Respect):

    See I believe in money, power, and respect. First You get the money. Then you get the muthaf**kin, power. After you get the f**kin’ power muthaf**kas will respect you.

    i respect where MIA is coming from when she says she’s going after the money. growing up without money changes your value system. she’s doing what she’s doing for herself at the end of the day, not for anyone else and there’s nothing wrong with that. if she wants to do more along the way for other people, then that’s awesome, but people should remember they choose to consume her music, she doesn’t choose to shove it down your throat. if she did, then you could argue she has some social responsibility.

  20. How come M.I.A is so popular with you guys? We here in South Africa have never even heard of her. Is she big in the states? Or is this just a UK thing?

    I wouldn’t mind if she became an international star, in that way I could see her pretty face more often. :-)

  21. “Also, MIA herself did not do it – her licensing deal and publishing deal with Interscope is what made it happen. How do you get your song on a car commerical? – your publisher is responsible for that, not the artist.”

    Not necessarily and how do you know who signed what in this case when said she sold it (Boston gig).

    “…instead of going with the lame ‘i grew up in a hut’ line.”

    But she did, didnt she?

    Also, as some have pointed out already, just cuz someone has the fame (at the moment and who just got it), doesnt mean they have the fortune (we think they do).

    Im not exactly thrilled by the ad but perhaps the coin she made from it will help her career out down the stretch. More MIA music is thrilling to me.

    Has anyone listened to her self-titled song (“MIA”) btw? Its in Piracy Funds Terrorism mix (over Dead Prez’s Hip Hop) and hidden at the end of Galang on Arular.

    I really dont think she did it so that “muthaf**kas will respect” her though.

  22. M.I.A is defenitley a sell out in the classic sence. Although I dont think that really takes away from her music for me. I mean it aint exactly like all the hipsters that blast her music is running down to sri lanka and living in the trees or nothing. Its not exactly rebel music. Its party music. Clever party music is ubiquitous anyway. (Chumbawamba anyone?) To have it be hypocrital is…well even better.

    However for a girl to sing “Don’t sell out to be product pushers” and then turn around and be like yo i did it cause i was poor. Thats just gay. She could just have gone the Hova route and still retain clout…”You could blame it on my environment but that dont explain why I be buying expensive chains”… See I can buy that.

    I still like the album though. Mud huts, crystals and all.

  23. Don’t worry ,she is not trying sell you (Desis)anything.Just trying to push something for the bigger market out there .Who wouldn’t want to dance to a daughter of ex-rebel member of a sucide-killer rebel group.Thats soo much better than gangster isn’t it?Just need enough hype to reach the whitey! review from slate

  24. Outside the desi circle, shes an unknown commodity in the US.

    She’s not really that well-known among desis yet. Her core market is DJs and indie music freaks, people who read Urb and Fader.

  25. Did anyone call M.I.A. or any artist a sellout when they signed with a medium to large recording company instead of going completely indie or self-promoting? So, why is she labeled as such now?

    “I was poor” is a bit of a lame reason to value money, but as M.I.A. said herself, do we fault artists from, say, the hood for pushing products and promoting themselves after proclaiming the evil that is The Man, etc. etc.?

    What’s good for the gander …

  26. Manish,

    She’s also on the cover of this month’s “Anthem” (another hipster music/fashion mag). I couldn’t find a story about her in the actual magazine though. (I might have missed it)

    P.S. Check it, leaked lyrics from MIA’s next album:

    Let’s wanda/ in my Honda/ a car I’m kind of fonda

  27. “I was poor” is a bit of a lame reason to covet money

    why? if that’s a lame reason, what is a good reason? or are there no good reasons to covet money?

  28. “sustain myself and help out people where it really matters

    genuine curiosity…is she a big philanthropist or something?

    she lived in a mud hut. now honda is giving her “all this cash”. so now she can “sustain” herself and “help out people where it really matters”.

    so basically what she’s saying is that she’s gonna move up in life and actually build herself a nice concrete 2 bedroom house so she can “sustain” herself and donate the rest of “all that cash” to charity?

    better argument would’ve been…yo, it’s my song, it’s my product, it’s a capitalistic society…if some company is dumb enough to pay me all that moolah to use that crap..course im gonna take it….money, fame, bigger audience, isn’t that what every artist is looking for anyway.

    of course the publicity that comes with making such a non-issue a story doesn’t really hurt either.

  29. Didn’t MIA used to hang out with Justine Frischmann from Elastica? Maybe she’s just taking her advice:

    In every little Honda There may lurk a Peter Fonda (Ooh!)

  30. All though I promised myself that I would never use this pharse, but you people have been drinking to much Haterade.

    She’s a young desi or sir lanken or whatever she wants to be called and she has been getting some fame and some cash, so thus 99% of desi’s are going to automatically be jealous and are looking for reasons to hate her and are already strating the count down tell she goes away.

    If U2 can “sell themselves out” why cant a person who is trying to make a living doing what she likes and should be trying to make as much money as she can because I dont think all music artist have 40 year careers like Rolling stones or U2.

    If she has indeed come from poverty then who else would know the value of money better then a person who knows what its like to never have it?

    Not ever desi has parents who are doctors or own 20 gas stations and will always have that to fall back on.

  31. Never heard her music and dont particularly care about how she makes her money. However justifying whatever you are doing as “grew up poor” and “grew up in a mud hut” stinks….. we all know, love and adore the smell of money. So stop justifying it and accept the fact. If you want to be uptight and pretend you dont care about money, stop signing record deals and distribute your music for free on internet. Stop doing shows for money and do free stuff and I dont mean free shows for once…. I mean always. Get over it people, she is no different from those so called hustlers whom we all adore so much.

  32. FYI, from an article in today’s NYT Business section, titled >”Media Age Business Tips From U2″ “Don’t embarrass your fans,” Bono told The New York Times last year. “They’ve given you a good life.”

    BE CAREFUL HOW YOU SELL OUT U2 has been offered as much as $25 million to allow a song to be used in a car commercial. No dice. They traded brands, not money, with Apple. Bob Dylan may wander around in a Victoria’s Secret ad and The Who will rent “My Generation” to anybody with the wherewithal, but the only thing U2′s music sells is U2. Just because it will fold and go in someone’s pocket – The New Yorker publishing ads illustrated by its cartoonists comes to mind – does not mean it will be beneficial over the long haul. …. “Their credibility is very strong,” said Gary Bongiovanni, editor in chief of Pollstar, a trade magazine covering the concert industry. “I don’t think there is anybody who doesn’t believe that they are sincere in what they are doing.”

  33. the reasoning she gave about living in mud huts, i agree with someone above, it sounds kind of contrived. i don’t know enough about her to know if she did live in a mud hut, but desis do have the ability to speak to an exoctizied past in order to portray a school of hard knocks past we may not have had. she might actually have lived in a mud hut, but then again i guess there are people who actually did live in mud huts and i just wonder if she was one of them

  34. Outside the desi circle, shes an unknown commodity in the US.

    She’s not really that well-known among desis yet. Her core market is DJs and indie music freaks, people who read Urb and Fader.

    Well, I don’t think that’s entirely true… She’s on the radio here in Seattle, she’s opening for Gwen Stefani on more than a couple tour-dates and, wait for it… Rumor has it that she’s going to make it onto The Jon Stewart Show sometime in the near future.

    I will gladly sell my music to to play in a Hummer commercial… Any takers for my soul?

    Well, I do know a guy, but I think he’d want you to give him a hummer before letting you play in the commercial…

    Seriously, though, most artists have to sell a little something to survive, so cut her some slack. If she starts writing songs for iPod or Guinness, then she truly is selling-out her art. But until then, she’s working and getting her music out there.

  35. “Outside the desi circle, shes an unknown commodity in the US.”

    She has one of the most diverse audienceds of any music act right now.

  36. franktank —- thank you for calling people out. Who here is NOT chasin’ the almighty $? She’s a musician for Chrissake, people expect way too much from entertainers. I’m mean how many MDs & JDs don’t have loans to pay off?

  37. franktank: what a crock of shit.

    MIA is her own person and can do whatever the hell she wants. I personally think her music is whatevAH, but if she wants to sell out fine. But she’s just as much a phony about it which is what gets people’s ire. If you want to sell out, and represent something, forget it. Doesn’t work.

    I write my own music too. I’ve got a band in the UK. If some car company offered me cash for a song I wrote, I might very well sell it to them (probably not). I will NOT sell the idea that I’m out here with a shit childhood to hawk my beats nor call out the fact that my image of being edgy/against the MAN! or whatever lame excuse to sell myself as representing something and turn around and change my tune.

    Judge the music by itself. If you like it great. If not then don’t listen to it. I couldn’t care less. MIA just seems like another attention seeker to me and I couldn’t be bothered about her. Has she sold out? Probably. Should we care? Why bother? She’s just another one of the many artists who use a gimmick to sell her music.

  38. Did any of you cry “sellout” when Aerosmith licensed “Just Push Play” to Dodge for a large campaign? No, those ads rocked. I won’t buy a pickup, as I’m particularly Honda/Acura loyal, but bigups to Dodge for the ads.

    Did anybody hate on Eminem, Jay-Z, or Puffy for creating a clothing line, hate on J. Lo or the new Mrs. McCartney for their perfumes? It’s simple diversification of what one’s name can pull in, revenue-wise. A smart artist will realize that they have precious limited years to rake in the cash, as very few have the staying power of a Sting or Paul Simon. HELL, even Aerosmith sold out and they’ve been around longer than some of the SM readers have been ALIVE. Props to the artists for having the business sense to secure a future for themselves and not blow up their first album advance on bling and crack and hos and beach houses… it’s all about being smart with the money. -Like MD said, sometime back, don’t knock selling out til you’ve tried it.

  39. It’s not like she sold out to Hummer or Wal-Mart. Honda is a respectable company and they treat their workers really well. Also it’s not a completely retarded commercial and the music plays well with it.

    Good exposure for her music, most Americans have never heard of her still.

  40. i’ve got no problem with having music in an ad about a honda; i mean of all the things to work yourself up about, thats just not on the list.

    but if we’re reacting to the post put up, the justification put up was retarted (in my opinion)

    • worrying about someone “selling out” is retarted in the scenario

    • justifying an act like in the original post is, also retarted

  41. Yo Honda must have felt like sheeet, coz BMW was on the lyrics. [/ghetto] like duh whatever [/blonde]