K’naan the Prophet

In the diaspora, there are many parallels across the aspects of culture. Whether discussing experiences on the continent of Africa, in the United States,  in Eurasia, or in Southern America, there are commonalities of reality amongst people of melanin. Carrying this idea into the world of music, it is not surprising that music emphasizes the commonalities. K’naan is a perfect example of the cross-sectionalitey of diasporic experience. K’naan is a Somalia-born, Canadian raised rapper, poet, philanthropist, and revolutionary. After escaping from a civil war in Somalia, K’naan moved to America where he taught himself English through rap music. His experience with rap music influenced his diction and his perception of the community around him, as his repertoire included highly observant rappers such as Nas.

In 2005, K’naan released an album entitled The Dusty Foot Philosopher, which featured the song “Saboox”. Saboox is both politically and socially charged. Sabot is a Somali word meaning “to come out”. The song discusses the civil war in Somalia and the treatment of the citizens by  the government.

K’naan’s verse begins with:

“Basically, I got beef
I wanna talk to you directly
I can’t ignore, I can’t escape
And that’s ’cause you affect me

You cripple me, you shackle me
You shatter my whole future in front of me
This energy is killing me
I gotta let it pour like blood, soobax”
K’naan speaks directly to the government and rebels to express  the frustrations of the people. They feel they that are without opportunity and that they do not have control over what happens in their lives. This experience can be viewed throughout the diaspora in the form of systematic racism. I believe that it is important to note K’naan’s ability to recognize injustice within society and create a commonality between Africans around the globe. This type of consciousness is not present in much of the hip-hop music that exists currently. More artists of the time would be wise to follow the example of K’naan.

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