Sunday, November 22, 2009

K'naan - Troubadour

K'naan was "born in Mogadishu, Somalia, just as the civil unrest that rocked the country was beginning, he spent the early years of his life trying to avoid death and listening to the hip-hop records sent to him from America by his father, who had left Somalia earlier. When K'naan was 13, he, his mother, and his two siblings were able to leave their homeland and join relatives in Harlem, where they stayed briefly before moving to Rexdale, Ontario, Canada."(AllMusic Guide). With this as background, it's been an amazing journey for K'naan to rise to prominence in the hip-hop community. Personally, I heard him first on a track off Wale's newest album Attention Deficit titled "TV in the Radio." And then found this feature on NPR with one of their "Desktop Concerts" that is pretty awesome. Pretty much all of his lyrics on his major-label debut Troubadour are influenced by his heritage, upbringing, world view, and remarkable experiences in his home country. It's an amazingly eclectic album that sports some A-list collaborations such as: Damian Marley, Adam Levine (of Maroon 5), Mos Def, Chali 2na, and Kirk Hammett (of Metallica).

The strongest and catchiest songs on the album are: "T.I.A.", "ABC", "Dreamer", "I Come Prepared", "Bang Bang", "Wavin' Flag", "America", "Fatima", and "Take A Minute". You'll noticed I just basically named half the album. This isn't an accident. It's quite a strong album from a relative newcomer. You can basically play a game of trying to hear/name the various musical influences throughout the album. Personally, I don't know a whole lot about many African music stylings or melodic predilections, I just know they are mix and match to form a harmonious and interesting mix. And if you've brushed up on your Somali you'll have a better chance of understanding a few verses on the track "America." But out of all of the songs I think the catchiest and most poignant song is "Take A Minute" with lyrics like, "Any man who knows a thing knows / He knows not a damn, damn thing at all"

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