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Troubadour - K'NAAN

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Genre: Hip-Hop & Rap / Artist: K'NAAN / Audio CD released 2010-06-28 at Polydor Group

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      02.06.2011 22:15
      Very helpful
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      very good

      Introduction

      K'naan is a man who has been on a journey from the start of his life and he has a story to tell in his music. He comes from an artistic family. His aunt was one of Somalia's most famous singers and his grandfather was a poet. He was born in Somalia and lived there during civil war. He later moved to America and then on to Canada where his family still lives. It seems quite convenient that his name actually means traveller in Somali. He learned English by listening to hip hop and rap. He lost friends due to war and also spent some time in prison. He is now a relatively well known rapper, singer, songwriter as well as a poet and instrumentalist.

      His music combines a lot of different elements including influences from the likes of Tupac, Nas and Bob Marley. This album (Troubadour) is his third studio album and was originally released in 2009. The version I will be reviewing will be the champion edition which has a total of 17 tracks. Some key features from the album come from Damien Marley, Adam Levine (Maroon 5) and Mos Def. He came to quite a lot of peoples attention last year during the World Cup with his 'Waving flag' song which became one of the major sounds of the World Cup in South Africa 2010.

      Track by track

      1. T.I.A- The initials in this song stand for This is Africa and this song as you might have guess is about the continent and the things that go on in it and especially some of the difficulties faced in Somalia. "You don´t know how hard it is here
      The streets is tricky in these parts here." There is a heavy drum beat and this provides a great backdrop with some solid lyrics. Good start to album. 4.5/5

      2.ABC'S featuring Chubb Rock- Another great tune. This is about the lack of opportunity for education in his homeland Somalia ."They don't teach us the ABC's,We play on the hard concrete
      All we got is life on the streets." Chubb Rock gives a decent cameo appearance as well and the lyrics go well with the great beat and chorus.5/5

      3. Dreamer- good start to the album with another top tune. Another song with a good beat which is a bit slower but picks up and goes well with the lyrics. "I'm a dreamer but I ain't the only one got problems ,But we love to have fun ."The music video to this is an animation which is quite cool also. 4.5/5

      4. I Come prepared featuring Damien Marley- dance beat with lyrics that sound like the loading of a a gun. Decent song but not the best it could have been . 4/5

      5. Bang Bang featuring Adam Levine- this is a good song with a catchy beat but seems a little out of place when considering a lot of the others on the album.It is about some kind of crazy woman the singer gets involved with. 4/5

      6.If rap gets jealous featuring Kirk Hammet- Rap mixed with rock metal. It shouldn't really work but it does and it's great. 4.5/5

      7. Waving Flag- this is the original Waving Flag song with some lyrics which were omitted from some of the more commercial versions. This is a great song and even though it has become overplayed, it is still great for me. "When I get older, I will be stronger,They'll call me freedom, just like a Waving Flag." 5/5

      8.Somalia- a track all about his homeland with a choir also singing with him in the background. Like this verse particularly :
      "Do you see why it's amazing,
      When someone comes out of such a dire situation
      And learns the English language,
      Just to share his observation." 4.5/5

      9. America featuring Mos Def and Chali Una- this song begins with K'naan singing in his native language. It is a good song until the feature artists come in who seem to bring the track down with their lacklustre lyrics. 3.5/5

      10. Fatima- seems to be a story about a young girl who is taken away and also about young love which is cut short due to war. A child like song with a pleasant beat and good lyrics. 4/5

      11. Fire in freetown-slow acoustic start to this song which builds up slowly. He also sings again in his own language.Another solid track. 4/5

      12. Take a minute- This song has a great message and also seems to be quite pop friendly and was another one of the singles from the album. This is a song about being grateful and to enjoy today. "Nothing is perfect man, that's what the world is,All I know is I'm enjoying today ."4.5/5

      13.15 minutes away- about cashing checks and money transfers in low income areas. "you can pick up today its 15 minutes away." Ok track but not one of the great ones for me. 3.5/5

      14. People like me- Really top song and one of the best on the album for me. This song tells the stories of a soldier fighting in Iraq, a divorced educated woman that loses her job, and also K'Naan's escape from Somalia. A really moving song with great lyrics. "Heaven, is there a chance that you could come down
      and open doors to hurting people like me." 5/5

      Bonus tracks:

      15. Does it really matter- a song which seems to imply how you can get a hit with a just a decent auto tuned beat and hot girls or something along those lines. -" If the beat is hot does it matter where or who its from?
      If the flow is hot does it really matter where I am from?" 4/5

      16. Wavin' Flag (Coca-Cola® Celebration Mix)- the celebration mix for waving flag. A bit more commercial than original especially with Coca Cola endorsing it, 4/5

      17. Wavin' Flag (featuring will.i.am & David Guetta)- Another version of the same track with some other high profile guests. Not as good.3.5/5

      Overall

      This is a solid album from K'naan and has quite a few decent tracks. My favourite tracks are ABC'S, Dreamer , If rap gets jealous, Waving Flag, Take a Minute and People like me. There are enough decent tracks to outweigh some of the slightly weaker tracks. I would give this album overall a solid 4/5 stars. It is almost worthy of 5 but a few tracks bring it down slightly.

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  • Product Details

    Disc #1 Tracklisting
    1 T.I.A.
    2 ABC's - K'NAAN, Chubb Rock
    3 Dreamer
    4 I Come Prepared - K'NAAN, Damian Marley
    5 Bang Bang - K'NAAN, Adam Levine
    6 If Rap Gets Jealous - K'NAAN, Kirk Hammett
    7 Wavin' Flag
    8 Somalia
    9 America - K'NAAN, Mos Def, Chali 2na
    10 Fatima
    11 Fire In Freetown
    12 Take A Minute
    13 15 Minutes Away
    14 People Like Me
    15 Does It Really Matter
    16 Wavin' Flag
    17 Wavin' Flag - K'NAAN, will.i.am, David Guetta