K’Naan – “Fire in Freetown”

Okay, so there was no post last week because I was back in my homeland, the mythical, far-off land of Narnia Canada, and whenever I’m back in Toronto I’m always amazed by the bevy of cultures and peoples seen there. You can go five blocks and see five different countries represented, and I really took the city’s multiculturalism for granted, especially after moving to America. One group well represented in the Greater Toronto Area are people from East Africa, in particular Somalia, and a community artist K’Naan hails from.

Singer, rapper and instrumentalist, K’Naan arrived in Canada from Somalia in the early ’90s, right as the country fell into a civil war, and he has much to say about his homeland.  A survivor, K’Naan recalls his coming of age vividly in his music, reminiscing on handling guns, losing loved ones to violence, and having killers practically at his doorstep, and though he escaped the chaos his life in Canada wasn’t all that much better initially, coming to grips with survivor’s guilt and being an immigrant in a new and very different place. Getting into poetry and music, a new route was opened for him to speak out about the situation at home, and he’s spoken in front of prominent organizations at home and abroad, even at the United Nations. Amused and disgusted with fake gangster emcees toting guns in their videos, he got into rap, speaking very bluntly about life at home, though staying positive, and his debut record, 2005’s The Dusty Foot Philosopher, was a striking debut, though his second record, 2009’s Troubadour, remains one of my favorite listens.

Troubadour knocks, brimming with confidence, positivity, and anthemic listens. K’Naan really steps it up with his expansive sound, heavily influenced by East African music and his lyrics addressing his upbringing, life in Canada, and hope and solidarity with his people back home, along with people struggling around the world. It’s a great album, one which I’ve been getting reacquainted with lately, and for tonight’s post, I had to present one of my favorite listens from it. Check it out.

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