M.I.A. Album in Limbo

Rapper's much-anticipated debut delayed because of legal issues

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The much-anticipated debut album from Sri Lankan rapper M.I.A., Arular, slated to hit stores on February 22nd, has been delayed until at least mid-March. The record has been riding a wave of positive pre-release press, including a four-star review in the current issue of Rolling Stone dubbing it "one of the new year's most remarkable albums."

According to a spokesperson for record label Beggar's Banquet, legal issues over a sample used on the record are postponing the release.

The twenty-eight-year-old Londoner, born Maya Arulpragasam, spent the first nine years of her life in the jungles of Sri Lanka in the midst of a violent civil war, before emigrating to the U.K. in 1986 with her mother and siblings. "The two years before I came to England were a mess," M.I.A. told Rolling Stone last month. "My school got burned down. Loads of people I knew were killed." (In December, Sri Lanka was devastated by the Asian tsunami.)

Having lived through so much, M.I.A. was undaunted by her prospects in music. "How I sing is like how a tone-deaf person would sing," she continued. "But I was like, 'I'm just gonna keep writing songs.' I had to understand that it's all about just being brave with who you are . . . I like taking people on. I'm a third-world refugee terrorist or whatever."

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