Before escaping war-torn Somalia at age 13, K'Naan found inspiration in an Eric B & Rakim CD mailed to him by his father. By the time he'd reached Canada — and before he could even speak English — K'Naan had etched the raps of Paid in Full in his mind. Driven by Ethiopian samples and a mission to raise awareness about Somalia, K'Naan will perform as part of NPR Music's day party at SXSW. Hear the rapper recorded live in concert from The Parish in Austin, Tex.
In a recent interview with NPR's Elizabeth Blair, K'Naan says that American rap lacks credibility, because even the toughest American neighborhoods aren't as dangerous as his hometown of Mogadishu. His background informs a style that hits hard with a message that hits even harder. K'Naan's latest album, Troubadour, features the talents of Mos Def, Chali 2na, Metallica's Kirk Hammett and the long-lost Chubb Rock, who weighs in on "ABCs."