Leaving Somalia at the age of thirteen on what turned out to be the very last commercial flight to ever do so, amidst a crumbling society and the end to this day of any form of central government, K'Naan carried with him a very strong sense of purpose. It is this sense of purpose as well as his amazing lyrical gift, which has made him a beacon for other artists as well as those dedicated to global change.
In 2001 after gaining notoriety as a skilled mc and spoken word poet, K'Naan was invited to Geneva to perform a spoken word piece at the 2001 50th anniversary of the UN Commission for Refugee's. In front of some of the biggest suits in the world, K'Naan brought the house down with his politically charged poem, K'Naan explains, "I basically called out the UN for its failed relief mission in Somalia" The audience was so moved by the piece that they gave K'Naan a standing ovation and African superstar Youssou N'Dour who was also in attendance loved the performance so much that he invited K'Naan to Senegal to record with him.
Similarly, in Toronto in 2002 while recording a verse for a War Child benefit track entitled "Keep the Beat" K'Naan's unique flow caught the attention of artist/producer Jarvis Church, one half of the Grammy award winning production team Track and Field (Nelly Furtado). From there began a creative partnership that would lead to the creation of K'Naan's' first full length album The Dusty Foot Philosopher.
K'Naan creates urgent "music with a message" because his whole existence depends on it. "Soobax" produced by Track n Field is percussion-fuelled protest music at its finest. It's more than a song, it's something people raise arms for," explains K'Naan "The term Soobax actually means to "come out" so when I recorded that in the studio, I imagined myself being in front of gun men, and I'm communicating directly to them". "Strugglin" is tracks for those who struggle and find themselves pushed to the brink yet at that point transform that struggle into power and the ability to overcome. The African Way" utilizes superb backing music supplied from a group of nomadic musicians K'Naan ran into and recorded in a restaurant in Mombassa, Kenya. "Wash It Down" is another must-hear track made entirely out of the sounds of crashing water, done by the "forces of nature". All and all the LP is a break out from the braggadocio world of Hip Hop
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