Excerpt from K’naans piece in the NY Times, find the whole thing here : NY Times article by K’naan
“So some songs became far more Top 40 friendly, but infinitely cheaper.
On my second album, I had sung about my mother’s having to leave my cousin behind in Somalia’s war — “How bitter when she had to choose who to take with her…” Now I was left, in “Is Anybody Out There?” — a very American song about the evils of drugs — with only “His name was Adam, when his mom had ’im.”
The first felt to me like a soul with a paintbrush; the other a body with no soul at all.
SO I had not made my Marley or my Dylan, or even my K’naan; I had made an album in which a few genuine songs are all but drowned out by the loud siren of ambition. Fatima had become Mary, and Mohamed, Adam.
I now suspect that packaging me as an idolized star to the pop market in America cannot work; while one can dumb down his lyrics, what one cannot do without being found out is hide his historical baggage. His sense of self. His walk. I imagine the 15-year-old girls can understand that. If not intellectually, perhaps spiritually.
I come with all the baggage of Somalia — of my grandfather’s poetry, of pounding rhythms, of the war, of being an immigrant, of being an artist, of needing to explain a few things. Even in the friendliest of melodies, something in my voice stirs up a well of history — of dark history, of loss’s victory.”