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Birthday: May 30, 1978

Birthplace: Mogadishu, Somalia

Canadian rapper K'naan (Keinan Abdi Warsame) was a politically charged artist best known for the inspirational anthem, "Wavin' Flag." A native of Somalia, K'naan grew up in an artistic family; his mother was a singer and his grandfather a poet. The high incidence of gun violence in Somalia prompted his family to move to New York, and later to Toronto, when he was a teenager. He only began speaking English after coming to America. Inspired by American hip-hop, he began rapping in his late teens, dealing at first with his violent memories of Somalia. This led to his discovery by Senegalese star Youssou N'Dour, who took him on tour and included him on the album Building Bridges. K'naan then spent a few years touring, playing notable gigs including the Montreux Jazz Festival, and gathering material for his 2005 debut, The Dusty Foot Philosopher. A hit in Canada and a critical favorite in America, the album refined his mix of hip-hop and Afrobeat, its raps laced with topical references and tough humor. And proving his potential for mainstream appeal, one track was included in the stoner comedy "Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay" (2006). His second album, 2009's Troubadour was his key to crossover success, with guest shots from rock stars (Kirk Hammett of Metallica, Adam Levine of Maroon 5), rap stars (Mos Def, Chubb Rock) and a reggae star (Damian Marley). It marked the first appearance of "Wavin' Flag," originally written for Somalian freedom and re-recorded in 2010 by a supergroup of largely Canadian artists (including Nelly Furtado, Sam Roberts, Avril Lavigne, Drake and Justin Bieber) for Haitian earthquake relief. Later that year, Coca-Cold used a rewritten version of the song as its promotional anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, hosted by South Africa; it then became a worldwide hit. Two years later K'naan wrote a children's book based on the song, When I Get Older: The Story Behind Wavin' Flag. In October 2011 K'naan appeared at a Hollywood Bowl concert (with Stevie Wonder, Lady Gaga and half of U2) to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Clinton Foundation. Another all-star cast appeared on his 2012 album, Country, God or the Girl, which included a hit duet ("Is Anybody Out There?") with Nelly Furtado and appearances by Keith Richards, Bono, will.i.am and Nas. Still, the album's more commercial sound drew some knocks and he admitted later that it hadn't quite worked. After a couple of quiet years, he appeared with Sia and Queen Latifah on 2016's Hamilton Mixtape with the topically appropriate "Immigrants," a track he'd largely written.




88% 79% Castle Rock Writer 2019
No Score Yet 10% Jimmy Kimmel Live! Music Performer 2009 2012
No Score Yet No Score Yet etalk Guest 2010 2012
No Score Yet 0% The Ellen DeGeneres Show Music Performer 2012
No Score Yet 100% Austin City Limits Music Performer 2010