K'naan: Hip-Hop As A Second Language

fromWXPN

Listen Now

24 min 27 sec
 

Web Extra

"Fatima"

4 min 15 sec
 

Set List

  • "Fire in Freetown"
  • "Take a Minute"
  • "Wavin' Flag"
  • "Fatima"

Put together astonishing lyricism and a talent for rhythm that recalls both hip-hop and the traditional music of Somalia, and you've got the gripping music of singer, rapper and poet K'naan. He was born Keinan Abdi Warsame in war-torn Somalia, and the violent backdrop of his childhood deeply influenced the budding musician. So did East Africa's artistic heritage: His aunt Magool was one of Somalia's most famous singers, while his grandfather was a highly acclaimed poet.

K'naan; courtesy of the artist i i

K'naan. courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption courtesy of the artist
K'naan; courtesy of the artist

K'naan.

courtesy of the artist

K'naan's family moved to Ontario when he was a teenager, and he first began learning English by listening to rap albums. By the tenth grade, he'd started to travel and perform, and in 1999, he performed a spoken-word piece for the U.N., criticizing what he deemed insufficient support for Somalia. Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour was in attendance, and was so impressed by the young poet that he invited K'naan to contribute to N'Dour's 2001 album, Building Bridges.

K'naan has just released his fourth album, Troubadour, which features performances by Metallica's Kirk Hammett, Chubb Rock, Chali 2na, Mos Def, Damien Marley and Adam Levine. Troubadour amply demonstrates K'naan's ability to graft together contemporary African music, American hip-hop and deeply poetic lyrics.

Purchase Featured Music

Troubadour

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
Troubadour
Artist
K'naan
Label
A&M/Octone
Released
2009

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.