Many MCs speak and boast about their brave natures and hard up bringing in their raps. They convey this by describing their longevity in the game and how they survived violent experiences, usually at a young age. Listeners will usually equate this violence to cities in America like Compton, Brooklyn, and even Detroit, but none compare to those experiences that happened in other countries abroad, especially Africa. Because the average American listener isn’t exposed to the hardships of other cultures across the world, they usually discount the experiences of immigrant rappers from these countries. K’naan speaks of his immigrant and Diaspora experience in “T.I.A (This is Africa)”.
He attacks this issue head on, in his first lines saying that he’ll “take rappers on a field trip anyday”, how he “knows where all the looters and the shooters stay”, and how if most of the rappers tried to step up to anyone in Africa they’d call them “pussy”. All these lines discount the experiences of African American rappers, usually the first to result to describing their violent natures in their raps. He insinuates that the real shooters, looters, and tough guys are in Africa, fighting a war with society that’s much bigger than African Americans can imagine. K’naan himself has gotten through some crazy experiences growing up within the beginning of the Somalian Civil War like losing three of his childhood friends to a random gunman when he was about 12, and mistaking a grenade for a potato, and throwing it just moments before it exploded. He definitely has been around the block and can talk about what it means to grow up in a hostile environment. His competition with these American rappers is synonymous to how most immigrants struggle to assimilate into American, British and other cultures they move to. Another quick snip he says at the beginning of the song is “You better have your shots and your passports”, mocking how many hoops immigrants have to go through entering in countries like the United States. In a way he’s telling them they need to be ready to enter his country.
Ultimately K’naan calls out how much immigrants go through and how they aren’t recognized for being survivors, both at home and adjusting to the hardships of the new country they inhabit.