Events

K'naan + Wale: 11.April.2010 - Chicago

Backed by a live band, K'naan rapped tight and globally wise rhymes that blend Rakim's sophistication with Eminem-esque wit before a sold out crowd at Chicago's Metro.

The masses pulsed and grooved to K’naan's intercontinental tapestry of rap beats, rock, and Afropop melodies. The Somali MC took fans to higher ground with tracks from his debut album Dusty Foot Philosopher (2005) and his latest release Troubadour, one of last year's best, and most ambitious, hip-hop releases.

In song, K’naan grabs hold of your heart and mind because of his gift for being a unique voice for himself as well as his fellow countrymen. Opening with the joyfully tragic third-world anthem "ABC's", a crop of cellphones and mini-cams sprouted up in the front row to capture the moment. He floated across the stage, casually donning a faded denim button-down shirt with dark green pants. His clothes might have been low-key and understated, but as he made his way through the song he wore a big fuzzy fur hat, like a king honoring his people with a royal performance.

Traversing through the funkied and soulful "I Come Prepared", and the tweeter-rattling crunk joint "Does It Really Matter", K’naan's intricate, journalistic rhymes and crafty punch lines uplifted, entertained and educated. His charm lies in his ability to simultaneously chronicle his experiences from growing up in the war-torn Horn of Africa while also sounding off on the global state of hip-hop.

He things down for reflective ballads "Take a Minute" and "Wavin' Flag" before inviting a fan on stage to sing "Be Free". The fan, Kate, owned the stage all by herself, earning that privilege through K'naan's reaction to her original YouTube performance.

K’naan ended his set in typical fashion: by sharing his life story of how he came to America as a young boy using an a capella croon, spoken word poetry, and rhyming all to tell an intimate tale of joy, heartache and triumph.

Segueing us from K’naan to headliner Wale, was DJ Omega. Mixing samples from Kanye West's Graduation with a dose of '90s gangsta-funk, he tried his best to sustain the energy of K’naan's show.

It turned out to be a futile attempt, however, though no fault of his own. It was simply a case of putting the wrong guy in the headlining spot.

Photos by Colleen Catania

Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

The 10 Best Experimental Albums of 2015

Music of all kinds are tending toward a consciously experimental direction. Maybe we’re finally getting through to them.

Books

John Lewis, C.T. Vivian, and Their Fellow Freedom Riders Are Celebrated in 'Breach of Peace'

John Lewis and C.T. Vivian were titans of the Civil Rights struggle, but they are far from alone in fighting for change. Eric Etheridge's masterful then-and-now project, Breach of Peace, tells the stories of many of the Freedom Riders.

Music

Unwed Sailor's Johnathon Ford Discusses Their New Album and 20 Years of Music

Johnathon Ford has overseen Unwed Sailor for more than 20 years. The veteran musician shows no sign of letting up with the latest opus, Look Alive.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Jazz Trombonist Nick Finzer Creates a 'Cast of Characters'

Jazz trombonist Nick Finzer shines with his compositions on this mainstream jazz sextet release, Cast of Characters.

Music

Datura4 Travel Blues-Rock Roads on 'West Coast Highway Cosmic'

Australian rockers Datura4 take inspiration from the never-ending coastal landscape of their home country to deliver a well-grounded album between blues, hard rock, and psychedelia.

Books

Murder Is Most Factorial in 'Eighth Detective'

Mathematician Alex Pavesi's debut novel, The Eighth Detective, posits mathematical rules defining 'detective fiction'.

Music

Eyedress Sets Emotions Against Shoegaze Backdrops on 'Let's Skip to the Wedding'

Eyedress' Let's Skip to the Wedding is a jaggedly dreamy assemblage of sounds that's both temporally compact and imaginatively expansive, all wrapped in vintage shoegaze ephemera.

Film

Of Purges and Prescience: On David France's LGBTQ Documentary, 'Welcome to Chechnya'

The ongoing persecution of LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya, or anywhere in the world, should come as no surprise, or "amazement". It's a motif undergirding the history of civil society that certain people will always be identified for extermination.

Television

Padma Lakshmi's 'Taste the Nation' Questions What, Exactly, Is American Food

Can food alone undo centuries of anti-immigrant policies that are ingrained in the fabric of the American nation? Padma Lakshmi's Taste the Nation certainly tries.

Film

Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".

Music

The Greyboy Allstars Rise Up to Help America Come Together with 'Como De Allstars'

If America could come together as one nation under a groove, Karl Denson & the Greyboy Allstars would be leading candidates of musical unity with their funky new album, Como De Allstars.

Music

The Beatles' 'Help!' Redefined How Personal Popular Music Could Be 55 Years Ago

Help! is the record on which the Beatles really started to investigate just how much they could get away with. The album was released 55 years ago this week, and it's the kick-off to our new "All Things Reconsidered" series.

Music

Porridge Radio's Mercury Prize-Nominated 'Every Bad' Is a Wonderful Epistemological Nightmare

With Every Bad, Porridge Radio seduce us with the vulnerability and existential confusion of Dana Margolin's deathly beautiful lyricism interweaved with alluring pop melodies.

Music

​​Beyoncé's 'Black Is King' Builds Identity From Afrofuturism

Beyoncé's Black Is King's reliance on Afrofuturism recuperates the film from Disney's clutches while reclaiming Black excellence.

Reading Pandemics

Colonial Pandemics and Indigenous Futurism in Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor

From a non-Native perspective, COVID-19 may be experienced as an unexpected and unprecedented catastrophe. Yet from a Native perspective, this current catastrophe links to a longer history that is synonymous with European colonization.

Music

John Fullbright Salutes Leon Russell with "If the Shoe Fits" (premiere + interview)

John Fullbright and other Tulsa musicians decamped to Leon Russell's defunct studio for a four-day session that's a tribute to Dwight Twilley, Hoyt Axton, the Gap Band and more. Hear Fullbright's take on Russell's "If The Shoe Fits".

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.