K’Naan’s second album, “Troubador,” is a musical gumbo of guest rappers and crooners, including Chubb Rock, Mos Def and Adam Levine, to name-drop a few.
“The only musical strategy for me is to be sincere. Whatever the feeling of the song is where I go,” says K’Naan
Somalia-born rapper K’Naan was first recognized for his lyrical potency when he performed at a 1999 United Nations event and criticized them for their failed aid missions to his homeland.
K’Naan says his art is from the heart.
“I never intellectualize a song like, ‘Oh I should put this in there.’ It just come with the territory and my experiences make their way into the song.”
“My aunt was a poet and my father a singer so I can’t help but have a love for music and the arts,” says K’Naan. “Even my two sons have music appreciation.”
K’Naan lives his life for today.
“I don’t care about a legacy. For such a long time I’ve not been sure I wanted to have one. It’s a bit of an interesting egotistical thing that happens on earth. So if I ever leave any form of a legacy it would be as simple as someone saying, “he’s done more good here than bad.”
The father of two says he can’t speak for the new crop of African rappers, but the ones he does know show respect for their women.
“African rappers don’t objectify their women despite having low-budget, and what some might view as corny videos they still have a true dignified way in which they interact with women,” says K’Naan.
K’Naan credits rap for helping him learn English.
“A lot of times, I would hear a phrase and take it apart and ask myself, “Okay, why is the artist saying this?” It forced me to read and study the English language because there were metaphors and other sayings that I just didn’t understand and it really helped me." says K’Naan.
Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, K’naan spent his childhood in the district of Wardhiigleey (“The Lake of Blood”) during the Somali Civil War, which K’naan’s name means “traveler” in the Somali language. He and his parents fled to New York City and moved to Harlem before settling in Canada.
“I encourage people to educate themselves about the facts before judging this Somali pirate,” says K’Naan.
K’Naan found himself in a war of words with fellow Canadian rapper K-Os. Although the rap battle never gained national recognition, K’Naan proved he was quick-witted with an ammunition of lethal eight bars.