Looking at K’Naan’s life and family background, he appears to have been destined to serve as a rational, hopeful, and inspirational voice for his people. His aunt was one of the most well-known Somalian singers to ever live and his grandfather was an established poet. In his youth, he witnessed firsthand the damage that corruption, gang violence, and drug trafficking has had on his people, losing numerous loved ones along the way. His music comes from a very real place, a place of loss and frustration – but nevertheless a place of unrelenting hope.
Although still in the early phases of his career, K’Naan has gained many accolades for his music, including the Juno Awards for Best Artist and Best Songwriter in 2010, as well as the Mobo Award for African Artist of the Year, also in 2010. Perhaps his greatest achievement in reaching out to a worldwide audience was the selection of his song, “Wavin’ Flag,” as Coca Cola’s anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. K’Naan performed this song in 86 countries all over the world, spreading his poetic message of community, activism, and social justice. It went on to win the Juno Awards’ Single of the Year in 2011.
K’Naan collaborated with hip hop legend KRS-One, soulstress Lina and EarthTones founder Frank Fitzpatrick to create the title track for the film Beat the World. The song, Hip Hop Nation, is a kind of anthem about freedom, dance and the rise of a new world order – a global movement of culture and consciousness, united through music and spanning across borders and race.