Southbank Centre has announced that rapper and political artist M.I.A. – or Mathangi ‘Maya’ Arulpragasam – will curate the 24th Meltdown festival, taking place this summer from 9-18 June

The festival is famed for bringing to life the world of its curator, counting Patti Smith, David Bowie, Yoko Ono, Morrissey and Massive Attack among those who have brought the South Bank to glorious full festival colour.

‘For me, this Meltdown will be about putting on a musical week that shows different types of music which have inspired each other to exist,’ says M.I.A. ‘Genres that support other genres, redefining the concept of a melting pot.

Respect the history, don’t live in it

‘Respect the history, don’t live in it. I plan to bring together music’s best forward thinkers who have contributed to all our lives. When music acts as inspiration, it’s boundary-less.’

M.I.A.’s musical career spans 13 years, five albums and has defied stylistic genres, with influences ranging from Nu Rave and Dancehall to Hip Hop from around the world. Her vast list of collaborators includes Diplo, Christina Aguilera, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, Jay Z and Lil Wayne.

M.I.A. is to curate Meltdown festival at the Southbank Centre in 2017

M.I.A. is to curate Meltdown festival at the Southbank Centre in 2017

Named in 2009 as a defining artist of the decade by Rolling Stone Magazine and an influential person by both Time Magazine and Esquire Magazine, M.I.A.’s artistic projects aim to challenge convention.

Her Top 20 track Paper Planes, questions immigrant stereotypes and was featured on the soundtrack of Danny Boyle’s hit film Slumdog Millionaire, and her later music videos for Bad Girls and Born Free, directed by Romain Gavras, were critically acclaimed and politically polarising. The single, Borders, from her latest album AIM tackles the European refugee crisis, particularly in the track’s video that she herself directed.

It’s not often that we encounter such an unbridled creative force. M.I.A. has not just broken barriers as a musician, but she has made art her rallying cry

M.I.A. – who has been nominated for an Academy Award, two Grammy Awards and a Mercury Prize – has earned a reputation for innovation, so we can expect a few surprises at this year’s Meltdown festival.

‘It’s not often that we encounter such an unbridled creative force, excelling in whichever field they try their hand,’ says Jude Kelly, Artistic Director at Southbank Centre, referring to M.I.A.’s breakouts into the worlds of directing, visual art, photography, fashion, modelling and as a political activist.

‘M.I.A. has not just broken barriers as a musician,’ she continues, ‘creating music that is embraced the world over, but she has made art her rallying cry – and has stayed true to her conviction, as an artist, woman and citizen of the world.’

‘In a progressively polarised world, we are now appreciating those that don’t fear standing out and those that defy moulds,’ adds Bengi Unsal, Senior Contemporary Music Programmer at Southbank Centre.

‘M.I.A. is fearless in the way she pushes boundaries and makes music that is so refreshingly original that it effectively doesn’t age. Her ever-evolving, yet readily identifiable musical style inspires people to dance, whilst giving a voice to the voiceless, from refugee camps in Africa through to London’s streets.

‘M.I.A. is a trend setter and social critic, but most importantly, an internationally loved and acclaimed musical star.’

The full line-up will be announced in the coming months, see southbankcentre.co.uk/meltdown