I'm fine tuning my article based on an interview I conducted with musician K'naan on Friday. What struck me about the conversation was his reluctance to get too far into political issues. I slowly emerged that he did not prefer to talk about it and was genuinely focused on his music. He saw the two as mutually exclusive to some extent, which is different from other celebrities that use their fame to speak on various issues. Here is a section of the large article that is still in progress.
In a guest appearance with The Very Best, K’naan sings, “The sky could fall down any day / Nothing lasts forever anyway / As long as I’ve got you here with me / We ok we ok.” The progression of the song goes on to a geographical shout out to various African cities. One could read the upbeat anthem that says that people living in cities experiencing extreme poverty, and war in some cases, as a rejection of the helpless Africa narrative.
For K’naan, the song is far simpler. “I wrote that as a Geographical song,” he explained. “I imagine myself jumping from town to town playing music playing in sweaty nightclubs.”
The motivation for K’naan is the creation of music and the feeling it can elicit in a person hearing a song. “I think music occupies a more sacred space that we generally tend to grant it,” he says pointing out that it is more than a political tool. “I don’t want to be a part of a group of people that can employ music that can do a certain task or political goal. It is wiser than us, smarter than us, more beautiful than us.”
The challenges faced by his family, friends and compatriots in Somalia are still important to K’naan, but remain separate from his music. “You don’t have to burden your fans with all your causes,” he argues. That is why he chooses to contribute a percentage of his concert sales to a charity or cause of his choosing, but does not talk about it during the concert.