Music News


The music made by Kanaan Warsame, who performs as K'naan, is as eclectic as his background. Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, he came of age during that country's bloody and seemingly endless civil war before emigrating first to the U.S. and later to Canada during the early '90s. Since then, he's developed a hip-hop hybrid that's as likely to embrace pop, rock and who-knows-what as the rhythms of his native continent. "If Rap Gets Jealous," the lead single from Troubadour, a full-length set for release later this month, gives hip-hop plenty of reasons to be envious, thanks to the fret-punishing riffology dished out by guest guitarist Kirk Hammett, of Metallica fame, while "ABCs," co-starring Chubb Rock, is built on beats midway between a New York club and a Jamaican dance hall. K'naan isn't the most profound lyricist going, despite his unusual history, and as an emcee, he's merely adequate. But don't count him out, because he's a chameleon — and a survivor.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts