Underappreciated Musician of Color #21: K'Naan

I'm from the most risky zone, oh
No place is more shifty global
More pistols, Russian revolvers
We shootin' all that is normal

But it ain't just because we want to
We ain't got nowhere we can run to
Somebody please press the undo
They only teach us the things that guns do

They don't teach us the ABC's
We play on the hard concrete
All we got is life on the streets
All we got is life on the streets

No B word or N word, I don't need those words
Respect for hers
The game dried up, so we come with the grease
Leadin' ya right and treatin' ya right, so peace

~ from "ABC's"
Somalian rapper, singer, and poet K'Naan (Keynaan Cabdi Warsame) was born and raised in Somalia.  A Muslim, he is the son of a poet and the nephew of Somalia's famous chanteuse, the late great Magool ("flower").  Apparently a gift runs in that family.

When K'Naan was thirteen, the Somali Civil War began.  His family left home and eventually joined a large Somalian community in Toronto, Canada.  While growing up in Canada, K'Naan spent time in prison.  He's lost friends to murder, suicide, prison, and deportation.

K'Naan's accent and subject matter of freedom, street life, and hard life in general don't make him unique per se, but his style is no less distinctive.  He can go from the slow, laidback swag of reggae on "Waving Flag" to the rapid-fire rhymes featured on "ABC's".  And that he titled his album Troubadour is pure charm.


  1. I'm so glad u spotlighted him yay! lol Also u should check out the song tribal war with damian marley, K'naan, and Nas. Knaan is truly gifted.

  2. You're welcome, and thanks for the suggestion!


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