Born: May 30, 1978

Mogadishu, Somalia


K'naan grew up during the Somali Civil War and eventually moved to the United States in 1991 after his mother petitioned for an exit visa from the U.S. Embassy. They first moved to Harlem and then to Toronto, Canada where there is a big Somali Canadian community.

During the 1990's K'naan began his career as a poet, rapper, and musician. After performing a spoken word piece in front of the United Nations High Commissioner where he critically spoke of the UN's failed aid missions in Somalia, K'naan caught the attention of Youssou N'Dour, a Senegalese singer. He was then invited to contribute to the singer's album, Building Bridges. This led to a variety of UN events and music festivals for K'naan.

Throughout his musical career, K'naan has released four albums: My Life Is A Movie, The Dusty Foot Philosopher, The Dusty Foot on the Road, and Troubadour. K'naan's musical style is a blend of a Bob Marley-like sound, hip hop and poetry. Unlike most rappers, he purposely tries not to feature gangster rap cliches in his music. Also, K'naan has collaborated with many popular artists including Nelly Furtado, The Roots, and Mos Def. K'naan always has something important to discuss through his music, and we cannot wait to hear what he has to say next!



His name means “traveler” in Somali.

His aunt, Magool, was a famous singer in Somalia.

He learned some English from listening to hip hop albums.