I was typing up my midterm for Hip-hop and Culture and I came across the artist K’naan. What started out as me listening to his hit song “Wavin Flags” turned into me listening to his whole discography.
Keinan Abdi Warsame better known by his stage name K’Naan is an award-winning Somali-born musician and poet. He rose to fame with the success of his single “Waving Flags” it was chosen as Coca Cola’s promotional anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. His music is influenced by hip-hop, Somali music, jazz, and world music. His claim to fame is beautiful instrumentation, infusing socio-political ideology, and soulful dynamic energy, and rhythms.
K’Naan uses elements of Rock, Afro-Caribbean, acoustic soul, and reggae type chants for a unique blend that either makes you want to dance or stop and listen. I have read that his approach is reminiscent of the Marley clan and of conscious rap disciples like Talib Kweli, Lupe Fiasco, and Mos Def, but I don’t see it at all. I find his music in a class of its own.
On his album Troubadour, my most favorite song is “Fatima”. The song is so beautiful it has a dope beat, a simple yet intricate melody, and melancholy lyrics. I really teared up listening to it. “Is it true when they say all you need is just love? (Is it true?) What about those who have loved only to find that it’s taken away? And why do they say that the children have rights to be free? (To be free) What about those who I’ve known whose memories still lives inside of me? Fatima, what did the young man say before he stole you away on that fateful day? Fatima, did he know your name or the plans we made to go to New York City? The song talks about a young K’naan losing his first love, who happens to be his neighbors daughter, at the young age of 12. It really underscores the violence that plagues Somalia. Some of my other favorites are “People Like Me”, “Dreamer” the track “Bang Bang” with Maroon 5’s Adam Levine and the calming and plaintive “Take A Minute”.