Growing up in war-torn Somalia, K'NAAN has seen more gun violence and tougher streets than your average gangster rapper could ever imagine, yet he chooses to use his experience to spread peace with his eloquent and thought-provoking lyrics. This juxtaposition offers a refreshing body of work to the contemporary hip-hop world. In 2006, K'NAAN took home the Juno Award (Canada's Grammy) for Best Rap Recording and most recently received "Newcomer of the Year" honors at the BBC's Radio 3 Awards, a showcase assembled to honor the very best in "world music." On Troubadour, events like these don't need to be glorified or exaggerated for the sake of art. "I think there are some people that are struggling in hoods [in Canada and America], but it is so much harder and so much more violent [in Somalia]," says K'NAAN. "If you want to be like, 'I'm from the hood. We got it rough. We got gats,' I think you should know the alternative exists. I'm speaking in the same language of hip-hop which decidedly speaks about rough neighborhoods. So if there is a place for rough neighborhoods, then here comes the Mother of Rough Neighborhoods."
Certain that it was only a matter of time before her family met the same fate, K'NAAN's mother would travel daily through the firefight to the U.S. embassy in the hopes of securing visas for her and her loved ones. Despite daily denials, she persisted, and on the last day the U.S. embassy was in Somalia, received visas to leave for America. "You can't even describe it," says K'NAAN. "It is the most sensational, liberating feeling. There was the weight of a world of hope on your shoulder that has suddenly landed. It was only then that I started to get this certain value of life that I never had before." With little possessions and no knowledge of English, K'NAAN and his family boarded the last commercial flight out of Mogadishu for New York before settling in Toronto.
Troubadour represents the sum of these experiences and more. Having spent the better part of the last two years traveling the world, taking his message directly to the people , soaking in everything from Bob Dylan to Fela Kuti to and Mos Def , Troubadour is the sonic document of an artist who has a lot to share, but clearly has a lot more in the coming years. For anyone who's said that hip-hop has nothing left to say, Troubadour proves that it all depends on where you look.
01. T.I.A ( 3:38)
02. ABC’s (feat. Chubb Rock) ( 3:09)
03. Dreamer ( 4:32)
04. I Come Prepared (feat. Damian Marley) ( 4:08)
05. Bang Bang (feat. Adam Levine) ( 3:06)
06. If Rap Gets Jealous (feat. Kirk Hammett) ( 3:39)
07. Wavin’ Flag ( 3:40)
08. Somalia ( 3:33)
09. America (feat. Mos Def and Chali 2NA) ( 4:45)
10. Fatima ( 5:01)
11. Fire in Freetown ( 4:36)
12. Take a Minute ( 4:06)
13. 15 Minutes Away ( 4:56)
14. People Like Me ( 6:16)