At Last, Rappers Discover M.I.A.

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Marilyn Perry's Sea Foam (2007). Photo: Getty Images

Remember when you first heard about M.I.A.? Maybe you caught the "Galang" video back in 2004 or downloaded that Diplo mix tape? You probably heard about her connections to the Tamil Tigers, too, or how she grew up on a council estate in London? It was one of those few hype moments that actually validated itself; you were probably pretty psyched. Or, maybe, like all the world's rappers apparently, you first heard her last month on the soundtrack to Pineapple Express. How else to explain the sudden rash of "Paper Planes" samples?

Just today, we found this remix, in which 50 Cent sandwiches some predictable but fun gun chatter between two "Planes" choruses, and on this mix tape, MF Doom has a turn as well, elegantly draping his slow flow over the mid-tempo beat. But the pinnacle of the trend is obviously "Swagger Like Us," which jacks the "no one on the corner has swagger like us" line for a very important cause: bringing together Jay-Z, T.I., Lil Wayne, and Kanye (a.k.a. the Internet’s Favorite Rappers) on one banger of a track. M.I.A. isn't totally new to the rap community, of course — we remember early adopters Bun B and Rich Boy hopping on the song when it was first released last summer. But, for whatever reason, it seems like most MCs are just now coming around. No complaints, though — we're just glad they finally caught on. We can't wait until 2012, when Cut Copy–sampling mix-tape tracks should be raining from the sky.