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Composer: K'Naan
Conductor: K'Naan
Label: A&M/Octane
Release Date: 2009-03-04
Rated: NONE
Genre: Recording

Straight outta Somalia doesn’t have quite the ring of, say, Compton, or even Detroit, but African rapper K’Naan boasts a much tougher backstory than most stateside MCs. He left his war-torn homeland on the country’s last commercial flight when he was in his teens. Now 30 and living in Toronto, K’Naan looks back on a lifetime of sacrifices, hardships, and violence on his second album. While there’s plenty of regret and frustration here (spanning immigration problems to the Iraq War), K’Naan lines Troubadour with jumpy beats and an often-playful flow that make the best of these situations. Mos Def, Damian Marley, and Maroon 5’s Adam Levine help out, but this is K’Naan’s show — from the sweetly reflective “Take a Minute” to the mostly autobiographical “People Like Me.” True to its name, Troubadour scours the globe for songs and stories — a little like M.I.A. fused with Bob Marley, with a shout-out to Dre thrown in for street cred.

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