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K'Naan

"The “Wavin’ Flag” hitmeister from the 2010 FIFA World Cup was never an easy fit in global pop success. He preferred to rap about the hard truths and memories from the harsh Mogadishu of his youth before he moved as a refugee to Toronto at age 13. Even his megahit about when he’d get older and be stronger was originally about resilience in war-ravaged Somalia, before a soft drink giant got him to recreate “Flag” into a blander soccer anthem, more about wavin’ than strugglin’. The sanitized hit’s massive reach helped persuade him to make his lyrics far poppier and Americanized, something he’d quickly developed misgivings about. “Some songs became more Top 40 friendly, but infinitely cheaper,” he’d reflect to the New York Times about his 2012 recording.

K’naan Warsame hasn’t released an album in the decade since but has continued to tour and perform, still an energetic lyric-spiller and perennial party-starter. Lately, he’s spent time living in Kenya, and collaborated with Somalian and East African hip-hop artists, continuing with his unique Afro-folk-hip hop sound. Freed from the expectations of a major label, he’s returned to authentic rapping, mixing the joy and the pain and is working on a new release, which he’ll perform songs from. They’ll call him freedom, just like he wanted it."

Biography by Jason Markusoff

Full schedule coming soon! Stay tuned.