from eye magazine,toronto " k'naan escapes certain death in somalia fora new life behind the mic"
k'naan has spent lifevtime time cheatind death,you wouldnt know to see him the 27 year old hip hopper is affable and soft spoken and quick to laugh his biggest complains is the cold in toronto,listen to the stories he tells and thena a more harroing picture emerges,he grew up in morgadishue,somalia, capital, which was wartorn apart bu warlords when he was 10" it was like a fire coming into your home" he says you not havinga place to exit" you were certain you were going to die,cause everybody else was dyiing ,i imagined i would not be fortunate enough to live llet alone escape somalia,so were just careless,running around the streets"
at the age of 11 him and his three best friends were running away from armed gunman,his friend got killed but he evaded ther bullets.his brother who was two years older was imprisoned for blowing the federal court building,the day he was to face the firing squad.he escaped with the aid of his aunt,magool one of famous east african singers.meanwhile the boys mother had been viditing the us embassy everyday pleading fora visa so they could flee the wartorn country and join their relatives in america,the embassy was packed to capacity,a staff member took pity and finally stamped her visa,,she and her two boys flew out on the last plane out of the country.
in somali language k'naan means traveller from the age of 7 he had been listeining to america hip hop,memorizing rakim lyrics,even though he didnt know english well and dreaming of escape,the records that he estranged father sent him,connected him to another world, and sopke to him of another oral tradition in a more afluent culture.
when his family resettled in harlem k'naan was amazed by its size but unfazed by its violence.he recalls" one day, we were eating dinner outside of our window,there wasa gunshot,my uncle ducked,me and my brother didnt flinch,my uncle was like" you see the guns here,you have to be careful,my brotther said" thats popcorn in mogadishue handguns arent considered dangerous,you have to shoot something have ak-47s and rpgs..."
the following year k'naan and his mother and his brother moved to the somali community in rexdale ontario,,as his engiish improved ,he bagan to devising beats and sounds of his own,he would sit on one of those garbage cans and bang on them and starting rhymingoff the top the tops for kids,they thought it was fascinating,they were like,man you are gonna be the first somali rapper" and it turned to be true
k'naan dropped out of school in grade 10 and has his name befits him,spending two years travelling north aamerica.in dc, he ended up on stage at big tiger stadium of the union club night" i was affraid of being in front of people" k'naan says" doing rap my own way" but people were " man thats fresh,thats crazy"
k'naan flows has something of of eminems venom, public enemy, k-os conviction" gangsta rap is absurd fora man from one of the most violent hoods in the world..."
as he puts it" all somalians know that gangterism isnt something to brag about,the kids that was growing up in rexdale, would wear baggu pantis anda little jacket from zellers and they would walk into school and all the cool kids would like" ah man look at this somalis,yo! you are a punk!",but probably that kid had killed 15 people"
evetually k'naan hooked up with t -dot urban promoter/artist sol guy,they became instant friends in philosophy" ,through guys auspices he end up performing live at at the UN 50th anniverssary concert in geneva in 19999,,AT the time he thought"" how dilly it is to perform in front of my agressors" i needed that moment to go justify the rest of my life,in the middle ofa song,i stopped the band.
it was abrupt and tense feeling soome of the organizers of the UN knew my politics and had trouble with them.Someone had to bring the house down,let them know that they are still sitting on fire..."
K'naan rapped out an capella poem,calling the UN for their botched operations in mogadishue in the mid 90s
" i had names in there of people who were sitting in the audience. when i finished there was gap of two seconds and thena standing ovation,a sea of people got up"
oner of these people were senegalese youssou n'dour who was immediately struck by the rappers bravery and enlisted him his building bridges project,a 2001 album of musicians living in exile"
throughN'DOUR patronage k'naam would travel the world playing at other world events and other UN events as well as the montreaux jazz festival,thorugh sol guy he net he met toronto track and field who produces and is producing his forth coming debut the dusty foot philodopher"
western productions and somali rhythims rock chorus and and lyrical darkness
,k'naam shot his first video fir its first single the warlord baiting" soobax" it is uplifting and powerful work fora street poet, who spends his childhoodhood shooting real guns
K'naam prize pocession as he puts it is the fact that he never killed anyone the closest he was ever came close to being killed wasnt in somalia but in toronto"
" justa abouta year ago, he says i was sitting in front of my house,,talking on the phone toa girl,there was a driving by shooting and 15 shots hit around my body and head area,they cracked the wall behind me,the gun men were just trying to kill somebody from our neighbourhood because somebody from their neighbourhood got killed by somebody from my neighbourhood",some punk dudes trying to hit all cool,you cant hit your target sideways"
" my mother patted me for the blood.she said how unfortunate would it have been to leave morgadishue and never been shot and been shot over here?"