Canadian-Somali poet, rapper and musician, K'naan, performs on Austin City Limits.
Hip hop conquers the ACL stage with sets from alternative rapper/actor Mos Def, supporting his latest record, The Ecstatic , and Somalian native K’naan, performing songs from his acclaimed LP, Troubadour . Austin City Limits Mos Def/K'naan airs Sunday, January 17 at 12 a.m. (midnight on Saturday, January 16) on WXXI-TV (DT21.1/cable 1011 and 11).
While he’s gained popularity as an actor in such films as Monster’s Ball, Be Kind Rewind and Cadillac Records, Mos Def’s limber flow and gymnastic wordplay (Paste Magazine) has earned him a spot among hip hop’s most respected lyrical masters.
Mos Def’s early work with Black Star produced singles including “Respiration” and “Definition” that are often cited as being among the best of the genre’s best. His first solo album, 1999’s Black on Both Sides is a critical classic. On his flawless debut, Mos Def “does it all — addressing serious socio-political issues while remaining positive and affirmative from start to finish” (Pitchfork).
His sophomore release, 2004’s The New Danger mixed soul, blues and rock to create the “hip-hop equivalent of an all-stops pulled, Oscar-ready performance” (Blender). Village Voice wrote, “the defining flow is sonic — a shadowy, guitar-drenched tone poem of the streets. The “impressively diverse” (Rolling Stone) album received a Grammy nomination for the song “Ghetto Rock.” His third release 2006’s True Magic, contains “gems both musical (live sax and jazz flute) and lyrical” (Now Magazine).
Mos Def’s most recent solo album, The Ecstatic, has been called his “strongest, most deeply felt work in ages” (Entertainment Weekly). The “experimental and progressive” (PopMatters) has Middle Eastern and rock influences creating a multi-textured musical base that creates a “thrillingly accessible demonstration of hip-hop’s limitless creative possibilities” (Observer Music Monthly). Mojo wrote “This is an album that demands careful attention before its meanings and musing reveal themselves, blending apocalyptic visions with occluded celebration
“A talented artist that isn’t afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve” (PopMatters), Somali-Canadian K’naan’s inventive take on hip hop is earning him international acclaim.
Born in Somalia, Keinan Abdi Warsame and his family lived in that country during the Somali Civil War. His family was one of the last to be able to leave the country in 1991 before the U.S. Embassy closed. They lived in New York for a brief time before moving to Canada. K’naan learned English through hip hop albums and quickly became a vital part of Canada’s music scene.
In 2005 K’Naan released The Dusty Foot Philosopher which focuses on his experiences as a child in Somalia and contrasts the poverty and violence in Africa with that of Western countries. The CD is “full of unusual rhymes and images, bursting with the fresh insights of a wide-eyed writer for whom English is his second language” (The Observer). The CD won the 2006 Juno Award for Rap Recording of the Year and earned K’Naan the BBC Radio Award for World Music newcomer of the year. The Dusty Foot Philosopher has since been rereleased internationally.
K’Naan’s second release, Troubadour, picks up where his debut left off and is bringing the artist even more international attention. Troubadour “is a smart fusion of influences” (Boston Globe) that contains “richly detailed rhymes” (Entertainment Weekly). Billboard wrote “K’Naan’s singular take on the parallels between Africa and America is the strongest thread running through this diverse, socially alert and frequently brilliant sophomore disc.”
When it comes to presenting live music, AUSTIN CITY LIMITS embodies its motto of “Great Music. No Limits.” Accomplishing what no other show has done in the history of American television, the series has, for more than three decades, presented audiences with the most diverse, original, cutting-edge talent music has to offer. Staying on the cusp of technology, ACL is broadcast in dynamic high definition and 5.1 surround sound on PBS HD channels where available and airs nationally on 97% of the country's PBS stations.
Throughout the year, PBS invites viewers to explore the vast contributions of African Americans. In honor and celebration of Black History Month, February 2010, PBS presents new and encore programs, beginning in January and continuing through February.