Somalian-born hip hop artist K’naan interviewed

This is a video of the K’naan song called Hardcore. Live at BB King in New York City, USA.

From British daily The Morning Star:

Rise [anti racist music] festival: Interview

(Friday 13 July 2007)


RICHARD BAGLEY meets Somalian-born acoustic hip hop artist K’NAAN.

MANY people at this weekend’s Rise in north London will have a story to tell.

But surely few would compare to the life story of one man. K’naan.

If you haven’t heard the name before, it probably won’t be long before it’s familiar, because this Somalian-born hip hop artist has exactly what it takes to become a truly global star.

At the age of 13, he and his mother were lucky enough to scramble on the last flight out of Mogadishu before the country imploded.

Since then, like so many Somalians, he has led the life of an exile, growing up as an immigrant in the West, first in Harlem and then in a Toronto neighbourhood.

Over the past decade and more, he and his fellow country folk have been forced to watch in horror as things went from bad to worse.

This feeling of helplessness and alienation has driven his music, acoustic hip hop that’s fuelled by anger, yet is tinged with a beauty that reflects this softly spoken young man’s compassionate heart.

Update August 2009: here.

2 thoughts on “Somalian-born hip hop artist K’naan interviewed

  1. Ethiopia: Songstress Releases New CD Entitled Jidka (The Line) (San Francisco)

    18 December 2007
    Posted to the web 18 December 2007

    Born in Mogadishu to an Italian father and Ethiopian mother, Saba has come to represent the meeting of African and European cultures: as an actress she starred in a long-running TV drama, playing the role of a policewoman fighting against the prejudice of her colleagues, while dealing with issues such as illegal immigration from Africa. On Jidka (The Line), her musical debut, she explores the divide between Somalia and Italy with a rare sensitivity and gentle humour; mixing acoustic guitars and koras with traditional African beats and contemporary percussion. The result reflects both one woman’s search for her identity and what it means to be alive in the 21st century, when so many people live in more than one culture.

    Saba left Somalia when she was 5 years old. As the product of a mixed marriage and because her father was Italian (Italy being the colonial ruler of Somalia), the family was viewed with some suspicion. They were given 48 hours to leave, forcing them to migrate to Italy. From this point on Saba was determined to hold on to her Somali roots, to learn the language and to mend the broken thread with her homeland through music.

    Jidka is Saba’s way of telling her story. The word ‘Jidka’, which is the title track, means line – the line that runs on her belly and divides it into two parts – a darker side and a lighter one. This for her represents the union of diversities and the harmony that her parents found when they fell in love. Her story focuses on her identity as multilayered and with many different influences. She sings in her mother tongue – a type of Somali that is spoken in Reer Xamar, a quarter of Mogadishu, and has real expression and rhythm in itself. The result is an album which is a real mix of contemporary and traditional.

    Many of the songs on the album describe the struggles of life in Somalia. ‘I Sogni’ is the story of a woman who leaves her village for the big city in search of a better life; ‘Melissa’, sung partly in English, is about the plight of many women who escaped the civil war and crossed the desert in search of freedom. ‘Je Suis Petite’ is dedicated to Africa – a continent full of suffering (‘The world is cruel, and I am so little’). Other songs are more romantic, describing love and the importance of living in the moment (‘Manta’). ‘Hanfarkaan’ describes how the wind is linked to the spirit – when it blows strongly it brings us into contact with the spirit of someone we have lost.

    Saba is joined on djembe, guitar and percussion by long-term friend and collaborator, Taté Nsongan, from Cameroon, on kora Senegalese Lao Kouyate and on vocals Felix Moungara. The album is produced by well-known musician/composer Fabio Barovero, founder of Mau Mau and the Banda Ionica project. As Saba says, ‘we worked to realise a sound which combines past and present, tradition and modernity, with our minds open to a future of increasing cultural mixes.’

    Artist: SABA

    Title: JIDKA (THE LINE)

    Release date: January 29, 2008

    Cat No: TUGCD1047

    Barcode: 605633004724


  2. Pingback: Tony Benn, Galloway, Zephaniah, Rovics, etc. on their favourite music | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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