Troubadour - K'naan
K’naan’s second release, Troubadour was recorded in Bob Marley’s original Tuff Gong International Studio; very nearly a shrine to Jamaicans and reggae artists around the world (the mixing board is the same the Master twiddled into the music of legend). And, you can bet the Marley’s don’t hand just anyone the keys, another indication of the personal magnetism of this soft-spoken Somali refugee who has won over UN delegates, the Juno Awards and anyone who has given him an audience. In the studio’s solitude, K’naan channeled its fabled vibe as performer, composer and Executive Producer, assuming the true role of a troubadour. The album delivers fifteen songs with a weight of music and message we haven’t heard since Bob Marley (especially in the farcical genre of North American urban music). That’s fifteen master works without a dud among them. K’naan’s rap is pure poetry, not gutter rhyme. The intensity of his life experience, growing up in the thick of civil war, crackles through Troubadour until by track 12, ‘Take A Minute’ you honestly get the impression listener and artist both need a ‘time out’ from the torrent of raw and genuine emotion. Add in beautiful orchestration, hooky melodies and a crazy, diverse cast of guests, from Metallica’s Kirk Hammett to Mos Def and Adam Levine (Maroon 5) and you have an album that shames urban music. One of the highlights is the rockin’ ‘If Rap Gets Jealous’. Jealous? It’s going to soil itself when it catches wind of K’naan.