K'naan | Subterranean | Hip-Hop | Chicago Reader

K'naan Recommended All Ages Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard

When: Sun., Feb. 8, 7 p.m. 2009

On his forthcoming Troubador (A&M/Octone) Toronto-based rapper K’naan continues to draw on his childhood in Somalia, which he fled as a teenager in 1991—and who can blame him, with such dramatic source material. In “ABC’s” he laments learning more about guns than the alphabet as a kid, and in “Dream­er” he recalls how daydreams helped him transcend those harsh realities. But at this point a track like “15 Minutes Away,” where he rhymes about financial desperation in America and the temporary relief offered by the likes of Western Union, feels a bit more immediate. Some cuts deftly sample music he grew up with—Ethio­pian classics by Mulatu Astatqe and Tilahun Gessesse—but cameos by Kirk Hammett (on “If Rap Gets Jealous”) and Maroon 5’s Adam Levine (on “Bang Bang,” an unfortunate revamp of Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs”) make K’naan’s excellent post-Eminem flow sound a lot more ordinary. —Peter Margasak

Price: $13

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