05 June 2008

K'naan, the dusty footed rapper

K'naan: The Dusty Foot on the Road
buy CD/hear samples
K’naan raps so smoothly, you’d think he grew up deep in the heart of US hip hop culture. In truth, he hails from the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia. And like Sudanese rapper Emmanuel Jal (about whom we've written much recently), he has learned the language of hip hop fluently, yet he comes at his music from a unique cultural and musical perspective.
K’naan raps over organic sounds: “Wash It Down” has no music other than hands drumming on water; “The African Way” uses only hand drums as support for his rapid-fire wordplay. Other tracks include acoustic guitar, but most tracks on the album are shockingly stripped down for a hip hop recording. Knaan - somali rapper on SoundRoots.org
K’naan is certainly a better rapper than singer (proof of which is in “Be Free”), but this live recording shows that he clearly has the showmanship to get the London crowd singing along. If not for the sprinkling of mild profanities, Dusty Foot would certainly be getting more US airplay; K’naan’s sharp, raw, powerful music deserves that, and more.
This track shows off K'naan's deft vocal skills with a minimum of backing rhythms. How many top hip hop artists would sound this good stripped of their beats and DJs?
[mp3] K'naan: The African Way
from the album The Dusty Foot on the Road
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