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Awards for World Music 2007 - Newcomer


K'naan album cover
Draped in the cornflower blue Somali flag and flanked by his djembe player and guitarist, K’Naan Warsame is not your average hip hop artist. ‘Gangsta’ poses and bling are just not his thing. Even the samples sound organic. His thin frame is lost in elegantly bohemian threads and with his haystack-shaped hat crammed over a burgeoning Afro, he looks like a youthful Sly Stone and sounds not unlike Eminem once did. But the words he raps and sings mark him out as a proverbial ‘brother from another planet’.

As he declares on his 2005 debut The Dusty Foot Philosopher, “It’s better to light a candle than to curse the dark.” That kind of optimistic attitude has taken him a long way from his roots, growing up in a tough neighbourhood of Mogadishu known as the River of Blood, where he learnt to fire a gun at the age of eight. As the civil war which began in 1988 slowly engulfed the entire country, he and his peers – three of whom were killed one night when he was eleven – were forced to live by their wits in a city where gun law was the only law.

By this time, his father had already settled in the US and was sending his son musical Red Cross packages containing albums by the likes of Eric B & Rakim and Nas, thus sowing the seeds of his later career. Eventually his mum managed to get the rest of the family on the last flight out of Mogadishu in 1991 before turf wars closed the airport. They ended up in Toronto, where K’Naan started writing raps as soon as he could speak English…

Fast forward to 2006. K’Naan spends most of March touring Europe as support act for his friend Damian Marley. His charismatic presence graces DJ Charlie Gillett’s (hopefully not) last broadcast on BBC London 94.9 FM at Reading’s WOMAD festival. In October, his instantly recognisable cameo makes ‘Silani’ a standout track on Ba Cissoko’s second album. And M-1 from underground US rappers Dead Prez joins him onstage at London’s Jazz Café, previewing their forthcoming collaboration, ‘Till We Get There’. You could say K’Naan has ‘arrived’.

Jon Lusk

K'naan - the dusty foot philospher
Read other people's comments then Tell us what you think:

zakereye london
i think can is a great young taleneted rapper, with so much to say. every word he says is so powerful and with so much meaning and eligence. i missed my opurtunity to meet him when he came to london, but hopefully he will be back.

Amina from coventry
k'naan well done of becoming the winner and im somali too so im very proud of u

i'm very proud of him.and i think every somali should be proud of him, i just love his music. GO K'naan

Emmanuel from Paris, France
Just to reassure anyone afraid the praise for him might be biased, I've nothing to do with Somalia nor had I ever particularly even spared a thought for it, but I still think he is one of the best rappers I've ever heard. Very good job, it's so refreshing to hear rap lyrics which actually have meaning.

Dhalad London U K
it is good to see an Artist that not only talk about life but taking that massege to the world is more difficult, also learning new language is not easy so k'naan is unique his style his sound his story telling and amazing live perfomances. above all his abilty as indiviual to survive as a Refugee & as an Artist K'naan u raise above the rest and pass the test to tell u'r tales. well done great work beautifful sound melody and true stories.that is the dust foot philosepherDhalad

Stephen Harvey; B.C., Canada
Our family - ranging in age from 17-53- has been nearly constantly playing K'Naan's cd since we got it almost two years ago. It hasn't lost even a fraction of its impact on us, despite how often (and loud!) we play it. utterly compelling.

first of all k'naan is the best of the best somalian rapper dat i've ever met i met him in newyork i had short conversation with him so k'naan is outstandin somalian rapper i like to give my at most respect to k'naan who i share one thing.

omar, washington DC
KNaan you are the last standing great lyric, stay the course bro. you are the next bob marley and you'll highlight somalia on the map.

Nadia, Toronto
K'Naan is a stunning example of lyrical brilliance, intellectual sharpness and sophisticated self-expression. He is an inspiration.

Petra,Sisak (Croatia)
I love hip-hop and I love K'naan music.Respect to K'naan.;)2PAC rest in peace :(

abdi ali usa
keep it up

Noor, London
Ever thought of writing and singing one of your philosophical songs in somali to get the message of peace,love and unity across to a wider audience at home and in the diaspora.

Elisa, London
I love it!

dip, london
Front page on the BBC! Well done bro

Jazmine Alex
Here, we have the kind of artist Hip-Hop needs to inject some much needed enthusiasm. He combines eloquence and meaning into his lyrics, add that to the reality he raps about and you have a real singer in the making. Bravo to him!

Lara, London
I saw him last year at Womad and have been listening to dusty foot philosopher ever since. Great, witty lyrics!

nafisa london
brotha is hot

dj ohms-nairobi kenya
good stuff,i think he will make it on world music,if he keeps going the same way through his heart>>>keep it bro!!your making east africans proud...:)

Patricia, Nairobi
I'm not of the hip hop age but I know a good sound when I hear it.I saw the video he shot in Nairobi, then I couldn't trace him. I'm thrilled he has 're-surfaced' AND on the World music stage.

heyy k´nann i´m abdula i´m from germany you are the best your songs are very cool i´m somali to


Eddie Punch. Freiburg, Germany
I am over 50 years of age and was spellbound by K'naan at last year's WOMAD festival.

nuur l,ondon
it realy reminds me of my home land,cant stop listening to it

Ron White
Terrific. Vigorous. Resourceful.

Nasir from London, UK
Without sounding bias because most people would say that because I am a fellow Somalian, nonetheless I truly beleive K'naan is gifted individual without a shadow of a doubt simply by listening to his rhymes and the discriptive pictures he draws I am finding myself in memory lanes as a recall things were chaos back at that particular time he was fleeing because I was born and grown up in Mogadishu as well and to think back how life was before all this mayhem started one can't help getting emotional for the simple reason that I never thought I would be living outside my country for such a long time but I guess God (Allah) makes all decisions. Without further due I like to give my at most respect to K'naan whom I share one thing, which is a true admiration for Rakim and Nas the two undisputed lyricist of all time well that's my opinion.

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