This blog represents a new milestone for our emerging artists program. There have been several times in this blog's nearly three-month history that I've highlighted previously shot exclusive performances and interviews featuring such acts as Katy Perry, Lady GaGa, Lily Allen, and the Decemberists. Now, for the first time in history, an artist initially showcased in the emerging artists blog is featured in an exclusive performance and interview. That artist is K'Naan, who was spotlighted in the blog headlined, "Hip-Hop's New Hope?" back in mid-February.
Back when I wrote that blog, I was just becoming familiar with K'Naan after hearing his track "If Rap Gets Jealous" on the radio. Now, through the magic of this exclusive interview, I've gained valuable additional insight into the man and his music. Check it out.
I was happy to see that the video interview covered much of the same ground that I initially wrote about because that means one of four things:
1. The interviewer, Hip Hop Media Training blogger Billy Johnson, Jr., read my blog and used it to write questions.
2. He turned to the same sources that I used when writing the initial blog.
3. A combination of 1 and 2.
4. None of the above.
(I have to admit, before I posted this, I had an instant-message conversation with Billy to make sure he was OK with what I wrote. For those playing along at home, after some debate, we agreed that No. 2 is the correct answer, although Billy initially chose No. 4, but I'm OK with that because Billy is a cool dude. )
Whatever the case, I'm sure you've heard that old cliché that a picture is worth a thousand words. I'd say a nicely produced video interview is worth a million. I don't know about you, but I enjoyed seeing K'Naan's funky clothes and listening to his heartfelt stories about coming to America from his native Somalia, his personal connection to hip-hop through Nas, entertaining and informing through his music, busting a protest move at the United Nations, and meeting and inspiring his hero, Nas. Now check out this exclusive performance of K'Naan performing "Wavin' Flag" live at a park in beautiful Santa Monica, California. Note that K'Naan and his boys are performing as they stroll from the swing set through the sandbox and up the playground's tower. While some of us having trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time, K'Naan and his boys demonstrate they can perform a nice meaningful tune like "Wavin' Flag" and navigate the playground at the same time. Talk about keeping it real. Check it.
When we first spotlighted K'Naan, it was prior to the release of Troubadour and I only had access to the original version of "When Rap Gets Jealous," from his 2006 album The Dusty Foot Philosopher. Now, with Troubadour on the street, I'm happy to take you out with this updated version, featuring recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Kirk Hammett of Metallica guesting on guitar. Also, check out "Bang Bang" featuring guest Maroon 5's Adam Levine, which is also included on Troubadour. As an added bonus, check out K'Naan in the guest role on "Africa," a track by Amadou & Mariam, another act with African roots that was recently featured in the blog and will open dates on Coldplay's upcoming stadium tour. While you listen to those tracks, let me know if you think K'Naan is hip-hop's new hope. I think his artistic range and Third Word-perspective brings a fresh new vision to the genre. How about you?