Meet Knaan –A Rapper You Should Know About
New York, January 14, 2008-Reaffirming his place as one of music’s most compelling new voices, celebrated Hip Hop MC, griot, and singer/ songwriter K’NAAN has announced the release of his long-awaited sophomore album, Troubadour, on February 24th via A&M/ Octone Records. The album features of slew of unique musical collaborations from a variety of artists including Damian “JR Gong” Marley, Chubb Rock, Mos Def, Kirk Hammett of Metallica, Chali 2na and Adam Levine & James Valentine of Maroon 5. The first single off the album, “If Rap Gets Jealous,” was added into rotation on K-ROCK/ KROQ last week. Fresh off his national tour with Matisyahu, K’NAAN has also announced 2009 tour dates that will kick off in early February to support the release of Troubadour (see dates below).
K’NAAN’s debut album, 2005’s The Dusty Foot Philosopher, left an indelible mark on the hip hop community and the global music world, and now he returns with an album that inspires and is musically rich with classic beats, novel instrumentation and innovative rhymes. K’NAAN uses his unique voice and authentic style to bring an enormous dose of realness and urgency to the hip-hop world, in the tradition of great folk singers and protest songs he carves a new path filled with eloquent and thought-provoking lyrics. From the dynamic power “ABCs” to the genre bending grooves of “If Rap Gets Jealous” and the acoustic African folk melodies of “Fire in Freetown,” K’NAAN widensthe traditional hip-hop perspective on his new album expanding boundaries with the combination of hard-hitting rhythms and lyrics.
As a child growing up in war-torn Somalia, K’NAAN has seen more violence and tougher streets than any gangster rapper could ever imagine. Escaping on the last commercial flight out of the country, K’NAAN arrived in North America and has proven to be not just your average MC, but a voice for change, a peacemaker, and a cultural bridge between the developing world and the west. Within the last two years alone, K’NAAN has played over 500 shows across five different continents, recorded and released his debut outing, The Dusty Foot Philosopher, and has had the privilege of sharing the stage – as well as recording with – artists such as Damian “JR Gong” Marley, Stephen Marley, Mos Def, The Roots, Nelly Furtado, Dead Prez, Youssou N’Dour, Amadou and Miriam and many more. In 2006, K’NAAN took home the Juno Award (Canada’s Grammy) for Best Rap Recording and most recently received “Newcomer of the Year” honors at the UK’s BBC Radio 3 Awards.
Some early reviews on the album have hit with praise coming from media outlets across the board:
“2009 Artist to Watch” THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
“A fusion of traditional African folk music and socially conscious, street hardened-hip hop… K’NAAN is set to invigorate a scene burned out on braggadocio and posturing” SPIN MAGAZINE
“3 1/2 Stars” BLENDER MAGAZINE
“An artist to watch” NPR
NEW Album Track Listing:
ABC’s (Featuring Chubb Rock)
I Come Prepared (Featuring Damian Marley)
15 Minutes Away
Bang Bang (Featuring Adam Levine)
Fire In Freetown
People Like Me
America (featuring Mos Def & Chali Tuna)*
If Rap Gets Jealous (Featuring Kirk Hammett)*
Take A Minute
*- Denotes New Track
Confirmed Tour Dates for K’NAAN:
2/05 Grand Rapids, MI Calvin College Fine Arts Center
2/06 Ann Arbor, MI Michigan Union Ballroom
2/08 Chicago, IL Reggie’s Bar and Grill
2/10 Madison, WI The Annex
2/11 Minneapolis, MN Cedar Cultural
2/13 Lincoln, NE University of Nebraska
2/14 Denver, CO The Bluebird
2/16 San Diego, CA San Diego Sports Arena
2/19 Garberville, CA Toph’s House
2/20 Oakland, CA Fox Theatre
2/21 Long Beach, CA Long Beach Arena
2/24 Boston, MA The Middle East- Upstairs
2/26 New York, NY SOB’s
2/27 Washington, DC Kennedy Center- Millenium Stage
2/28 Baltimore, MD Sonar
3/01 Philadelphia, PA World Café
3/04 Atlanta, GA Vinyl
3/05 Jacksonville, FL Jack Rabbit’s
3/06 Orlando, FL Social
3/07 Miami, FL Bicentennial Park
3/09 Portland, OR Doug Fir
3/10 Seattle, WA Neumos
For more information on K’NAAN, please visit:www.thedustyfoot.com and
K’NAAN is Spins’ breakout artist. Check It:
KNAAN on NPR:
Somali Rapper K’Naan Schools American MCs
By Elizabeth Blair
Morning Edition, January 6, 2009 – News from Somalia usually involves violent warlords, or pirates hijacking ships off the coast. Other than that, average Somalis don’t have much of a voice. But a rapper from Somalia named K’Naan is trying to change that, and in the world of hip-hop, he’s become an artist to watch.
K’Naan grew up in Mogadishu, on what he calls “the meanest streets in the universe.” In one song on his new album, he calls his hometown the “risky zone,” full of pistols and Russian revolvers.
“The song’s called ‘ABCs,’ ” K’Naan says. “And it’s about how being born in a certain place changes everything, your destiny. I got the kids choir singing, ‘They don’t teach us the ABCs / We play on the hard concrete,’ and for us, that is very true.”
Somalia is one of the poorest and most violent countries in the world. Malnutrition and clan warfare are rampant. According to Amnesty International, some 6,000 civilians were killed in fighting in 2007 alone. K’Naan says he wants to use his music to raise consciousness about what’s happening there.
“The people of Somalia just do not have a voice,” he says. “They are to me the most forgotten people in the world.”
The rapper left Somalia as a teenager in 1991 with his mother and older brother. The country was in a civil war involving multiple fighting factions.
“Mogadishu was burning. The government is falling,” he says. “And all the embassies are packing out, and my mother is able to get visas to the U.S.”
New Life In North America
His family eventually settled in Toronto. Eighteen years later, K’Naan is establishing his name in Canadian and American hip-hop. His first album, 2006’s The Dusty Foot Philosopher, was a hit with critics here and abroad. His latest, Troubadour, features Mos Def and Damian Marley. The L.A. Times recently listed K’Naan as an artist to watch in 2009, while The Guardian called him “powerfully low-key, theatrical [and] witty.”
K’Naan writes in a variety of music styles. But before he moved to North America – before he spoke any English – his first love was American rap.
“I came to the door / I said it before / I never let the mic magnetize me no more,” K’Naan raps, before saying, “That was Eric B and Rakim [from] Paid in Full. I used to say it just like that. But, of course, I didn’t know what ‘door’ meant.”
K’Naan could not be mistaken for an American rapper: For one thing, he has a kind of vintage Bohemian look. He says he doesn’t think that American rap has much credibility, because even the toughest American neighborhoods aren’t nearly as dangerous as Mogadishu.
“Where rocket-propelled grenades are fired around you on a daily … a guy bragging on TV talking about how gangster he is?” K’Naan says. “For us, it’s more a source of entertainment. It’s more like a comedy or something we watch. Say, ‘Oh wow, that’s kind of cute of American gangsters.’ But it isn’t hardcore, it isn’t that bad. Let’s get things in perspective, you know?”
Lately, K’Naan has been talking about the Somali pirates who’ve been hijacking ships from Western countries off the Somali coast. Because, he says, there’s more to that story, too.