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Music of the Genies: K'naan

With only days to go before the 32nd Annual Genie Awards, we here at CBC Live are getting a little eager to hear the evening's musical showings. Heavyweights K'naan, The Sheepdogs and Johnny Reid are all set to take the stage on Thursday night, and starting today we'll be giving you a more in-depth look at each of the artists involved.

First up is Somali-born hip-hop whiz K'naan, who's rapidly become an international household name. Fearless, unique and thought-provoking, K'naan's music strikes a chord that's both politically charged and socially relevant. Refreshingly unpretentious, he describes his work as 'urgent music with a message', but what sets K'naan apart from the average hip hop artist is his ability to do just that while still remaining fun, funky and true to the genre.

K'naan's first big splash was back in 2005, when he dropped his second album, The Dusty Foot Philosopher. The album drew wide critical acclaim and culminated in his first Juno win, taking home the award for Rap Recording of the Year in 2006.


Percussive and powerful, 2005's Soobax was shot in a Somali refugee community:


Since then K'naan has hit full stride. In 2009 he released Troubadour, which earned him three more Juno nominations and a win for Artist of the Year. When the 2010 World Cup kicked off in South Africa, K'naan's smash single Wavin' Flag became the tournament's anthem, and landed him on a whopping 19 top charts across the globe.


In 2009's Bang Bang K'naan proves he can drop a hook:


Considering his relatively short time on the hip hop scene, K'naan already boasts an impressive list of collaborations with big name artists from around the world, including Amadou & Mariam, Damian Marley, Nelly Furtado and hip-hop legends Nas, Mos Def (aka Yasiin Bey) and KRS-One.


One of K'naan's latest is a collaboration with Nas, on the newly released Nothing To Lose:


Released last month, K'naan's latest offering is the More Beautiful Than Silence EP, and at this Thursday's Genies he'll be playing a new track from it. We're all ears.

Related:

Music of the Genies: The Sheepdogs

Listen: Genies Nominees for Best Original Song

K'naan, The Sheepdogs and Johnny Reid To Perform at the Genies

Our Exclusive Genie Awards Live Streaming Coverage