In my recent post on rapper Chubb Rock, my blog brother Qwami Ade introduced me to a collaboration video between the Chubster himself and Somali-Canadian rapper K’Naan. Of course I was impressed! I decided that I would find out more about this young man’s music. So the time came for me to seek and search Brother K’Naan out and I found out that this young man is much deeper than his mad rapping skills would suggest. He’s a champion for his homeland of Somalia and for his people. He has become a spokesman and a statesman–a self appointed ambassador to Somalia’s struggles and desires for freedom, by virtue of his popularity. He’s a rapper’s rapper–can I say that? So many hip hop heads love him and he’s done innumerable collaboratings with everybody who’s anybody in the hip hop world. He’s very well versed in the politics of his country and his rapping artistry is a vehicle for him to get his point across to the world about the struggles of the Somali people.
He’s the answer to what hip hop should always be about– and not only he, but also so many other unheralded spoken word artists. Hip Hop should teach, it should inform, it should elevate, it should inspire and empower, and thank God hip hop continues to do just that in spite of those who prophesy of its impending demise. Hip hop continues just because of the negativity that tries to surround it on all sides and drown out its voice. Truth, though, cannot be silenced for long, and we should always be about the business of seeking truth. Too many of our young people, even our young intellectuals have allowed their ears to be clogged by the madness. It’s up to you, young ones, to clean out your ears to receive the truth, and bypass the lie.
But I digress.
When I found these video clips of Brother K’Naan, my heart sang! He’s articulate, passionate, dedicated, intelligent, focused and he’s using his gift to educate us about Somalia and the struggle of the Somali people in this time. K’Naan is learning about the malevalent power of the western media. He juxtaposes what he hears from his people back in Somalia about the issue of the Somali “pirates” and what he reads and hears about it here in the west. His home of Canada to be exact. Of course the two versions don’t mesh.
Now watch this Canadian interviewer as she twitches in anticipation to find out about the “bad” stuff that K’naan has done in his life. Her basic reasoning turned off, she’s deaf, dumb and blind to the man’s basic humanity. Her entire attention is turned to what exactly K’Naan is talking about when he admits that he had difficulties in his youth. When he explains that he’s been bad “in a textbook sense, but not inside”, the dumb lady can’t grasp what he’s saying. Interesting. White Canadians…so similar to their USAian siblings. (not all of them)
Anyway, I respect what K’Naan then says, quoting an unknown philosopher who said, “it’s better to light a candle than to curse the dark” K’Naan then says he’s not positive because he’s had positive experiences in life, but because he chose to be positive and to turn negative experiences into positive ones. It’s amazing how having a little bit of faith in yourself, and developing your gifts can be the catalyst to actualizing those very gifts!
Much respect to K’Naan for keeping it real!