K’naan raps so smoothly, you’d think he grew up deep in the heart of US hip hop culture. In truth, he hails from the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia. And like Sudanese rapper Emmanuel Jal (about whom we’ve written much recently), he has learned the language of hip hop fluently, yet he comes at his music from a unique cultural and musical perspective.
K’naan raps over organic sounds: “Wash It Down” has no music other than hands drumming on water; “The African Way” uses only hand drums as support for his rapid-fire wordplay. Other tracks include acoustic guitar, but most tracks on the album are shockingly stripped down for a hip hop recording.