“I’ve always been of the opinion that you cannot glorify that which is normal, that which is too often seen,” he explained. “You can’t make cool something that is so vast.”
Growing up in a war torn Somalian city, 31 year old rapper K’Naan brings a new struggle to Hip Hop. Not a struggle of representing how gangster one can be but just believing in yourself and your dreams. Using his voice to inspire others do know they can make it, he has virally spread across the world.
“You don’t have kids who are 8 years old walking around with AK-47s in the street,” he said. “Here, you have pockets, of course, that are struggling — without a doubt — and that have a lot of violence, but it’s still pockets. … When you do put your mind to it, you can make it. You can get out of the violence. For [Somalis], you cannot get out of the violence. There’s just nowhere to go.”
Growing up running the streets with his brother Libann, the rapper experienced more violence than what is possible for US Hip hop artists. The violence in his homeland became more palpable after gunmen chased him and three friends through the streets of Mogadishu. K’naan escaped. His friends were slain.
In 1991 K’naan and his family moved to Harlem, New York City. From there this family migrated to Toronto, Canada’s Muslim section Rexdale. Going through a big culture shock upon arrival, K’naan only knew a few basic words of English.
Using new Hip Hop music as one of his teaching tools, K’naan disected the raps of artists such as Nas and Rakim. Finding a soul connection to the music, he began writing inspirational Hip Hop verses that connected with world music. Using the sounds of R&B, Reggae, Hip Hop, and Rock to create his latest, it is apparent now genre of music is off limits.
One of K’naans greatest music accomplishments came from the 50th Anniversary celebration of the United Nation’s refugeee agency. There K’naan risked his music career by reading a poem blasting the UN’s lack of focus on his homeland of Somalia. Not sure if he would have a career after reading the poem, the crowd gave a standing ovation for his stand.
Photo of new Hip Hop artist K’Naan in his home country.
Photo of new Hip Hop artist K’Naan.
Wavin Flag – K’Naan and David Bisbal music video. The official song of the 2010 World Cup soccer event. Futbol is the biggest sport in the world for Americans not aware.