The dusty foot philosopher makes tracks

July 2005 | The Martlet

Photo by Kris Krug

Asked to describe his music, Canadian rapper K’naan is at a bit of a loss.

“It’s tough to describe, to be honest,” he said. “Musically, it’s something that’s kinda new. It’s a medium between two continents.”

The same could be said of K’naan himself.

Growing up in Somalia, K’naan was given hip hop records from his father, who worked as a cab driver in New York. The young, would-be MC spoke only Somali, but taught himself to mimic the American rappers perfectly.

It wasn’t until he left Somalia — on what turned out to be the last commercial flight out of the country — and moved to first the U.S. and then to Canada that he learned what the words meant.

Even more than a rapper, K’naan is a poet. It’s in his blood — his grandfather is one of Somalia’s best-known poets — and it’s how he started. In fact, it was as a spoken word poet that he first earned notoriety. Continue reading →

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