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Did rapper M.I.A. predict PRISM?

The rapper is currently enjoying the last laugh after the introductory track to her third album got panned for its conspiracy-theory rhetoric. 


Kevin Collier


Posted on Jun 20, 2013   Updated on Jun 1, 2021, 1:02 pm CDT

You shouldn’t have been shocked by allegations that the government spies on you through Google. M.I.A. told you so.

The rapper claims to have predicted the government Internet surveillance system PRISM in a song three years ago, and now she’s calling you out for calling her paranoid.

In “The Message,” the terror-alert introduction to her third album, MAYA, a man issues a solemn warning:

Headbone connected to the headphones
Headphones connected to the iPhone
iPhone connected to the Internet
Connected to the Google, connected to the government

At the time, critics lambasted her for being paranoid. Pitchfork called the song “a simplistic, paranoid rap that’s as rhetorically effective as someone in a dorm room ranting about the C.I.A. inventing A.I.D.S.” The website URB described “The Message” as “a horribly paranoid rant of information politics and media conspiracy lyrics.”

But, as leaked documents from the National Security Agency (NSA) show, it’s really not far from the truth. While the exact details of how PRISM works are still unknown, we do know that U.S. intelligence agencies make regular use of their ability to demand information from Google (as well as Apple and Facebook, among others) about their users, thanks to classified court rulings made possible by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

British magazine the Quietus mocked the song as embracing a “full-on conspiracy.” Reviewer Emily Bick wrote “Oh really? Maybe in the U.S., but certainly not the U.K. government, as anyone with a concussion from facepalming at our MPs’ technological cluelessness during hearings for the Digital Economy Bill will tell you.”

However, according to leaked documents obtained by the Guardian, the U.K. government has participated in the PRISM program since June 2010, a month before MAYA dropped.

M.I.A. pasted all these reviews, and more, on her Tumblr Tuesday. However, it might be hard to make sense of the content there. Her text there is confusingly spaced, her words are huge and the format confusing, and the page is filled with irrelevant GIFs that slow the page to a crawl.

In other words, the Daily Dot gives two thumbs down to M.I.A.’s Tumblr. At least until leaked NSA documents prove us wrong.

Photo by j.appleseed/Flickr

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*First Published: Jun 20, 2013, 1:44 pm CDT