Somalia.

The name alone conjures up images of unbridled destruction, merciless warlords and ruthless terror. A place where nobody—children, the elderly, religious figures—is safe from the atrocities of war, and where the idea of “childhood,” where 8-year olds handle AK-47s like toys, exists in chronological terms alone. When Forbes magazine recently unveiled their “Most Dangerous Destinations,” Somalia, above Iraq and Afghanistan, topped the list.

But it’s also “The Nation of Poets,” where a poem can both inspire peace and end wars. Where every weekend, regardless of the climate, one can find a play or concert at a local theatre.

Growing up, it was both of these Somalias that informed musician/emcee K’NAAN Warsame, whose sophomore album Troubadour will be released in January 2009. The grandson of Haji Mohamed, one of Somalia’s most famous poets, and nephew of famed Somali singer Magool, the emcee is creating his own musical path through reggae, funk, pop, soul and, above all, hip-hop.

Recorded primarily in Kingston, Jamaica where K’NAAN was granted unprecedented access by his friends Stephen and Damian Marley to their father Bob Marley’s original home studio at 56 Hope Road and the legendary Tuff Gong studios Troubadour is a hip-hop album like no other. K’NAAN successfully blends samples and live instrumentation for a sound that’s both rooted in traditional African melodies and the classic hip-hop tradition.

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