Fast Magazine features a compelling seven page indepth interview on Somalian artist K’Naan as a hip-hop young marketer.
Somalia. Spring 1989.
“On a dusty street in a Mogadishu district known as Wardhiigleey (Somali for “river of blood”), three 10-year-old boys, known in the neighborhood as K’naan the Skinny, Shorty, and La’ib, are washing wooden tablets. Each tablet, or loh, is used for note taking at school; pupils write their alphabets and math equations, as well as the phrases they are learning from the Qu’ran, in ink on these tablets. At the end of the day, they are washed clean.
Somalia is riven by clan wars. These are the last few years of the reign of President Mohamed Siad Barre, who has been looting the national treasury and speeding his country’s descent into the hell later memorialized in the movie Black Hawk Down. The battle zone is mostly to the north, but the war is felt more and more here in the capital. A cascade of refugees has flooded the town, survivors with strange accents. The local boys insult them with the nickname habadi keento, meaning “those who are brought by the gun.” The northern boys, presciently, have dubbed the locals habadi sugto — “those for whom the gun awaits.”
K’naan the Skinny splashes a bucket of soapy water against the wall of a house, exposing something round, small, and dull. He walks over to pick it up. It’s a grenade. . .”
Read the full interview on Fast Magazine.