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K'naan ( ;), born Keinan Abdi Warsame ( , ) in 1978, is a Somali-Canadianmarker poet, rapper and musician.

Biography

Early life

Born in Mogadishumarker, Somaliamarker, K'naan spent his childhood in Mogadishu and lived there during the Somali Civil War, which began in 1991. His aunt, Magool, was one of Somalia's most famous singers. K'naan's grandfather, Haji Mohamed, was a poet. K'naan is a Muslim. His name, K'naan, means "traveller" in the Somali language.

K'naan's father, Abdi, left the country, along with many other intellectuals to settle in New York Citymarker and work as a cab driver. He mailed money home to his family (as mentioned in "If Rap Gets Jealous"). As the civil war continued and the situation in Somalia continued to deteriorate, K'naan's mother, Marian Mohamed, petitioned the United Statesmarker embassy for an exit visa. In 1991, on the last day the US embassy remained open, as the government of Mohamed Siad Barre collapsed, their visa was approved, and they boarded the last commercial flight out of the country.

They joined relatives in Harlemmarker, New York City, before moving to the Torontomarker, Ontariomarker neighbourhood of Rexdalemarker, where there was a large Somali Canadian community. His family still lives there. In his new country, K'naan began learning English, some through hip hop albums by artists like Nas and Rakim. Despite speaking no English, the young K'naan taught himself hip hop and rap diction, copying the lyrics and style phonetically. He then also began rapping. He dropped out of school in grade ten to travel for a time, rapping at open mic events, and eventually returned to Toronto.

Career

K'naan became a friend and associate of Canadian promoter, Sol Guy, who helped him secure a speaking engagement before the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 1999, where K'naan performed a spoken word piece criticizing the UN for its failed aid missions to Somalia. One of the audience members, Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour, was so impressed by the young MC's performance and courage that he invited him to contribute to his 2001 album Building Bridges, a project through which K'naan was able to tour the world.

This project led to his work at other UN events, as well as the Montreal Jazz Festival and the Halifax Pop Explosion. It also helped him meet Canadian producer Jarvis Church and his Track & Field team in 2002, who produced his debut album The Dusty Foot Philosopher, which was released in 2005 to critical acclaim. In 2006, it won the Juno Award for Rap Recording of the Year, and was nominated for the 2006 Polaris Music Prize. It also won the BBC Radio 3 Award for World Music in the newcomer category for 2007. The Dusty Foot Philosopher will be re-released and re-packaged as a "Deluxe Edition" featuring new mixes and a bonus DVD in the United States (and various international territories) by the emerging media company and record label iM (Interdependent Media, Inc.) in 2008.

Since then, he has been on tour promoting his album and working on his follow-up release, "Troubadour," his debut album for new label A&M/Octone Records. He has also been working with artists like Nelly Furtado, Mos Def, The Roots, Dead Prez, and Pharoahe Monch on tours such as Live 8 and Breedlove Odyssey. He also collaborated with Damian Marley on the "Welcome to Jamrock" touring session.

In 2005, the Canadian music scene featured a low-key feud between K'naan and k-os, one of the most prominent Canadian hip-hop artists. Following the release of the music video for the song Soobax, which was shot by K'naan and a film crew in Kenyamarker, k-os released a track B-Boy Stance attacking K'naan : "They took cameras to Africa for pictures to rhyme / Over; Oh, yes, the great pretenders [...] Religious entertainers who want to be life savers." Though the feud never became high-profile, with K'naan expressing confusion at the attack and respect for k-os, he nonetheless responded with the mixtape Revolutionary Avocado which argued "You the all-knowing with a beer bottle / Wishing you was Plato and me Aristotle? / ...Suburban negro turned hip-hop hero / Is there a reason he really hates me, though?" — a rebuttal CBC's Matthew McKinnon called "cold-cocking the champ". He recently released The Dusty Foot on the Road, a collection of recording made during his recent world tour on Wrasse Records.

K'naan would rise to mainstream popularity by participating in the 2008 BET Awards Cypher, This was his first appearance on American television. His second studio album, Troubadour, was released on February 24, 2009 on A&M/Octone Records, and will be distributed through Universal Music Group worldwide. The album's first single, "ABC's", was released to radio in late 2008. K'naan has featured in several video games such as "Madden NFL 09" with his song ABC's, and "Fifa 06" with his song soobax. The song "If Rap Gets Jealous", a rerecording of a track of the same name - with different verses - from The Dusty Foot Philosopher, features Metallica lead guitarist Kirk Hammett. K'naan was also the first featured artist on X3, a collaborative project between CBC Radio 3, Exclaim! magazine and aux.tv to promote new Canadian music.

In September 2009, K'naan teamed up with J. Period, an LA born DJ/producer, and released "The Messengers", a three volume remix project. Each volume pays tribute to one music icon: Fela Kuti, Bob Marley and Bob Dylan. It was released and is hosted online for free at Jperiod.com/knaan.

K'naan also toured with Jason Mraz during the summer of 2009 for Mraz's Gratitude Cafe Tour. He is currently on tour with Lenny Kravitz on the LLR tour.

A remixed version of K'naan's single "Wavin' Flag" has been announced as the official song for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. And K'naan's remixed version of Wavin' Flag is one of the songs listed in 2k-beats playlist in NBA 2k10.

Political views

In a December 30, 2008 interview with Hard Knock TV, K'naan states that Somali piracy, while not to be condoned, has a reason for existence. According to K'naan, Somali fishermen organized and armed themselves so that they could protect the Somali shoreline from illegal dumping of nuclear toxic waste from private companies. He goes on to state that, "greed and the lure of money eventually produced what we see today as, Somali piracy".

On April 15, 2009 K'naan publicly criticized the approach to the problem of Somali piracy after the kidnapping of Richard Phillips of the United Statesmarker flagged MV Maersk Alabama container ship 240 nautical miles (440 km; 280 mi) southeast of the Somalian port city of Eylmarker.

Style and influences

Critics have said K'naan has "a sound that fuses Bob Marley, conscious American hip hop, and brilliant protest poetry." His voice and style have been compared to Eminem, but his subject matter is very different; according to K'naan, he makes "urgent music with a message", talking about the situation in his homeland of Somalia and calling for an end to violence and bloodshed. He specifically tries to avoid gangsta rap clichés and posturing, saying:

This statement was made to explain his position on the world of difference which exists between where he grew up, and the ghettos of the first world.. Nonetheless, K'naan denies that he is overtly political, instead explaining that he "[shows] the state of the world [and] if you call it like it is you're being political.". His own opinion of his music is that it's a "mix of tradition and [a] kind of articulation of my own life and [..] my past experiences."

K'naan has said that he is influenced by Somali music and the traditional instruments of Somalia. His most recent album, Troubadour, also draws heavily from Ethiopian sources, particularly Ethio-Jazz by Alemayehu Eshete and Tilahun Gessesse.

Live performances

Prior to the release of Troubadour, K'naan performed with a small acoustic band, consisting of Rayzak (back-up vocals), Kiercey (acoustic guitar) and UDOGG-The Funky Drummer (djembe and drums). This style was an essential element of what set K'naan apart from most hip-hop acts. More than that, it reflected K'naan's value of meaningful lyrics over shallow theatrics.

Since Troubadour, K'naan has toured exclusively with a larger electric ensemble - consisting of drums, bass, electric guitar, and keyboards - and his performances now also feature elaborate lighting. This change in showmanship, along with his collaborations with such high profile artists as Adam Levine and Mos Def, has helped to shift K'naan more into the mainstream flow of the music industry and has helped him gain exposure to a wider audience.

Discography



References

  1. 2007 ESOL Project
  2. Beautiful Dreamer
  3. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=98957087
  4. X3 Artist of the Month: K'naan
  5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTxJLlQCe4U
  6. http://www.rfi.fr/actuen/articles/112/article_3486.asp
  7. [1]
  8. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZZyP0i5B5w
  9. http://madison.decider.com/articles/knaan-at-the-annex,23678/
  10. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FreJXZ508k0&feature=related
  11. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0y49rf2LdXE&feature=related


External links




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