“15 Minutes Away” – K’naan
Born in Somalia, K’naan spent his childhood in Mogadishu and lived there during the Somali Civil War, which began in 1991. His aunt, Magool, was one of Somalia’s most famous singers. K’naan’s grandfather, Haji Mohammad, was a poet. He is Muslim, and his name, Keinan, means “traveller” in the Somali language. He spent the early years of his life listening to the hip-hop records sent to him from America by his father, who had left Somalia earlier. When he was 13, K’naan, his mother, and his three siblings, older brother, Liban, and Sagal left their homeland and joined relatives in New York City, where they stayed briefly before moving to Canada, to the Rexdale neighbourhood of Toronto,which has a large Somali community. His family still resides there. There, K’naan began learning English, partly by listening to hip hop albums by artists like Nas and Rakim. Despite the fact that he could not yet speak the language, the young K’naan taught himself hip-hop and rap diction, copying the lyrics and style phonetically. He then also began rapping. While growing up in Rexdale, K’naan lost many friends to murder, suicide, prison and deportation.
K’naan has since built a relatively strong following in the US, and saw a huge surge or popularity when his song “Wavin’ Flag,” was selected as was chosen as Coca-Cola’s promotional anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. K’naan’s music focuses largely on the difficulties of being an immigrant in todays world, and the political situation in Somalia. With this kind of background, K’naan has certainly got the emotional base for powerful music.
“15 Minutes,” is a song about being broke, and the incredible feeling of receiving a Western Union payment. Many of us will never understand the difficulty of rising in the US, but K’naan’s music gives us a glimpse into this life. Enjoy.