Somali hip-hop artist K’naan confessed to CNN that he can’t dwell on violence because it was an ever-present a force in his upbringing. He considers American rap music, which mentions acts of violence often enough, as lacking credibility. Why? Because even the toughest American neighborhood isn’t as dangerous as his hometown of Mogadishu, Somalia.

“You don’t have kids who are 8 years old walking around with AK-47s in the street,” said the 31-year-old rhyme smith. He added, “You can get out of the violence [in the US]. For [Somalis], you cannot get out of the violence. There’s just nowhere to go.” However, he understands American hip hop artists’ posture when it comes to representing where they come from and what they experience out there. The Somali rapper thinks they just don’t do it in the good way because glorifying gunplay, misogyny and drug trafficking is inexcusable. He cites Mos Def as one of the conscious American rappers who is able to take negative issues and turn them into positive thoughts. In a similar way, despite the Somali violence, K’Naan’s music celebrates his people and country, mixing activism and geopolitical insight.

African artists such as Nneka and Asa, both Nigerians, are also sensibly speaking out about the problem of violence on the African continent, via interviews or music. Through continuing hope, they also show the beauty of Africa. This duality leads to profound reflection and K’naan’s music is all about it; think and make people do the same. In accordance with that notion, “Wavin’ Flag,” his single for the World Cup 2010, is not only the competition’s hymn but also one for freedom and hope.

Written by Raluca & Shaira

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