LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW HERE
The music is the shining path over which the poet travels to bring his song to the world.
Lotte Lehmann (1888 - 1976) German opera singer
worldbeatcanada radio: That K'naan is alive to tell his tale is miraculous, considering as a child growing up in the middle of civil war in Somalia, he and the boy next door started playing with what they thought was a potato. In fact, it was an armed hand grenade. That K'naan has produced, written and rapped his second album of 14 songs with not a bomb among them, in today's disposable and forgettable urban music reality, must be a miracle. Recently, his Troubadour tour brought him within range of our roving microphone.
K’naan: Hello, hello, this is K'naan, the Dustyfoot Philosopher, now the Troubadour and I hope you're really enjoying the music. I made it for you. Thank you very much!
WBC: I get the feeling these songs have been dying to get out. Not to say that working in Tuff Gong International Studio wasn’t inspirational, but was the vibe at least conducive to the process?
K'naan: Oh my God! Yah, it was definitely inspirational. And, you're right, the songs have been waiting to be made by someone and fortunately it's me (laughs).
WBC: Do you think North American rap can refind its relevance?
K'naan: I think it can and I think it's starting to. A lot of people are being inspired now by the issues of the today, you know, the social issues and the economic issues. They're starting to look internally again and look at the circle of society that is in desperate measure. You know, there's some cool stuff that's starting to come on. I don't know how far it will go but it's a really interesting time.
WBC: Troubadour implies a singular performer/composer, but how id you connect with the other great talents on this disc like Damien Marley, Adam Levine and Kirk Hammett?
K'naan: It's amazing to have worked with all of them. They are all people who are very supportive and fans of the music I make and I'm a big fan of what they do. And, it was a great process. Some just happened to be coming into the studio to listen to songs of mine and heard things that they would like to contribute and did so ... a very natural process the whole thing.
WBC: This is worldbeatcanada radio and we’re talking with the Dusty Foot Philosopher, now the Troubadour, K’naan about the album, Troubadour, his fantastic new release. Make a personal connection with the artist at knaanmusic.com.
There have been two totally impressive releases for us of late and you appear on both of them: troubadour and Welcome To Mali by Amadou & Mariam. How did that east/west African collaboration come about?
K'naan: I got a call from Amadou, who I've worked with before. On numerous occasions Amadou and Mariam have invited me to work with them in some capacity. We did a song that came out on some charity record in France, sometime a go with Mathieu Chedid, the artist known as M. And, we traveled together to play at their blind school in Bamako, and I played there with them and Tiken Jah Fakoly. I spent so much time with Amadou. In fact, in the mornings, Amadou and I would take guitars and jam for a few hours over breakfast. And, this is in the Congo. Eventually, when they were recording the album (Welcome To Mali), I got a call from them and he said, we really want you to do something on it, so they flew me to Paris and what came out was that song (Africa).
WBC: What an inspiring disc. I truly love it! Any where your travels have taken you that really blew you away?
K'naan: Yah, Portugal.
K'naan: There's something about it. It's an interesting country to me. I've spent a lot of time now in Portugal ... been back maybe four times in the last two years. There's a little town called Sines, about two hours along the coast from Lisboa and it's where Vasco de Gama is from. It's really old and really beautiful and they have this wonderful world music festival there. We came there initially as an opener on a smaller stage. They loved the music so much that the next year we headlined the festival. And then, I went back the next year just to spend time. I fell in love with the place and I love the mood of the people and the beauty of the country.
WBC: We’ll go out on If Rap Gets Jealous. Can you set this up?
K'naan: Yah, this is a very rare but a harmonious collaboration between Metallica's guitarist, Kirk Hammett, one of the greatest in the world and myself. This is a song that is relevant to the spirit of my music which stands for, "No boxes, please!" This is If Rap Gets Jealous.
K'naan was interviewed by Cal Koat March 11th for worldbeatcanada radio