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Rapper K'Naan says a devastated heart inspired new album

posted 1 Apr 2012, 06:51 by Mpelembe   [ updated 1 Apr 2012, 06:52 ]

Somali born rapper K'Naan says his new album carries his own emotions of heart break and devastation -- some for country, some for God and some for a girl.

A&M / OCTONE - With lyrics that stir emotions, provoke action and raise awareness, K'Naan has been compared to some of the great folk singers of the past few decades.

However, the only difference is that his message is intertwined with a hip-hop beat and delivered in the form of rap.

The Somali born rapper is set to release his third studio album, which has him teaming up with everyone from Bono to Nas.

The 34-year-old said this album, "Country, God or the Girl," is more personal and intimate than his previous offerings, partly due to being love sick.

"Before this album I had never experienced like, heartbreak before. And, you know, I've lived awhile, but I've just never had that experience. And so I had it before this record, between the success of 'Wavin' Flag' and making this album that's what happened. That thing is devastating, nobody tells you, or maybe they do and I haven't been listening. All the songs on the radio make sense suddenly, even the totally cheesy ones. And I was kind of just totally distraught dealing with this thing. I was writing songs about it and a friend of mine asked me: 'Man, this is really a personal record, is it all about that girl?' And I said: 'It isn't all about the girl and even when it is you can't tell if it's about 'Country, God or the Girl,'" explained K'Naan.

Although he refuses to categorize his music, which some have described as music with a message, K'Naan counts actor Paul Giamatti's description as flattering.

"I had this performance in Portugal, in Lisbon, and one of the guests there was an actor whose work I like, Paul Giamatti and after the show he was so moved by the experience and everything and he said: 'Well I don't know what to say, it's like Dylan speaking through folk rap poetry, I don't know what to say.' And so that was a really nice description, anytime anyone says something about Dylan and my work," said K'Naan.

Throughout his 10 year career, K'Naan has snagged an array of awards including four Junos Awards, the BBC Newcomer of the Year award and was named African Artist of the year in 2012.

In between all the accolades, K'Naan recently found himself mixed up in a little controversy when he publicly objected to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's use of his song "Wavin Flag" to celebrate a primary win.

"Someone told me that in the Florida rally that when he won they used it as his celebration song - and I just thought the context of that was so wrong. Then my twitter just exploded with people writing me saying: 'How could you', because they believed that it was my endorsement, although the song was made essentially about poor people and this guy, whose message is the antithesis of it - they didn't feel like it was fitting, which was true," he said.

After learning about the incident he tweeted: "Yo @mittromney I am K'naan Warsame and I do not endorse this message." K'Naan went on to say that the campaign was very respectful and discontinued use of the song.

The rapper and his family fled war-torn Somalia in 1991, eventually landing in Toronto, Canada where he taught himself English by listening to rap music. Although he hasn't lived in Somalia in over 21 years, it's clear that K'Naan's homeland is still very dear to his heart.

"It's known as the nation of Poets. And so for me when someone says Somalia, the strange thing is to a lot of people all this negative imagery comes to mind, but because I've lived in Somalia for the first influence years of my life I remember poetry, I remember the profound effect that a poetic society has on raising a child. How sensitive it's made me to the world, perspective," K'Naan told Reuters.

"Country, God or the Girl" will be released on May 1st.