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Old 12-06-2008, 07:03 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default K'naan - The Dusty Foot Philosopher



Released by Wrasse in 2007.

1. "Wash It Down" – 2:15
2. "Soobax" – 3:42
3. "What's Hardcore?" – 3:36
4. "My Old Home" – 3:06
5. "Moment (Interlude)" – 0:10
6. "I Was Stabbed by Satan" – 3:50
7. "A Ghetto so Ruff (Interlude)" – 0:22
8. "Smile" – 4:03
9. "If Rap Gets Jealous" – 4:18
10. "The Dusty Foot Philosopher" – 3:56
11. "Strugglin'" – 4:25
12. "In the Beginning" – 3:21
13. "Hoobaale" – 5:05
14. "The African Way" – 4:20
15. "Voices in My Head" – 4:00
16. "Boxing My Shadow" – 4:29
17. "For Mohamoud (Soviet)" – 0:32
18. "Until the Lion Learns to Speak/Blues for the Horn" – 8:55


Near the end of this album, K'naan explains that a dusty foot philosopher is one who comes from poverty but lives with dignity and philosophises about the universe, and it is hard to think of a better moniker for K'naan, one of the most interesting new talents I've come accross. Autobiography has always been a key part of rap, and certainly K'naan's story is essential in understanding his debut album. Born in Somalia, he lived in a crumbling society and extreme poverty before escaping the civil war with his family to Canada when he was 13.

Musically this translates into a production style that mixes tribal drums and reggae esque grooves with a modern underground aesthetic. Samples are fairly scarce and most of the instrumentation sounds like it could be live, with quite a lot of mellow acoustic guitar.
Probably the most inspired piece of music comes from the opening track "Wash it Down" which forms a hypnotic beat purely from the sounds of sloshing water.

And the opening track also introduces the agenda of The Dusty Foot Philosopher, chronicling the horrible conditions of his homeland and contrasting it with the consumerism of the first world using the subject of water, "This is a little meditation for you to relax. And jump in the pool and you know, sink in the sink. My people drum on water, drink on water, live on water, die for water."

This message runs throughout The Dusty Foot Philospher to the extent that it could easily be considered a concept album, but his lyrical variation and execution keep it from ever becoming repetitive. "What's Hardcore?" pours contempt on gangsta rap's glorification of violence, "if I rhyme about home and got descriptive, I'd make Fifty Cent look like Limp Biskit."

K'naan's voice is slightly nasal, but still very pleasant to listen to. He varies his flow from quite frenetic to almost spoken word pace, but the greatest asset of his rapping is the emotion he wrings out of his words, easily the most evocative MC I have heard, the chorus of "Smile" being a great example. This suits his style of lyricism, which doesn't focus on wordplay or quirky references, but eloquent and engaging imagery, "Spread it indeed like shit and vomit that's under your feet. I was born in a pot boiling black and hot, waiting to be tasted and rapping a lot. But justice would not come and eat my flesh."

Overall this a brilliant debut record, with a strong sense of social justice and intelligent lyrics that never gets in the way of fun music. I recomend it to anyone interested in hip hop and I can see a stellar career for K'naan in the future. I think his follow up album is being released in 2009.

Last edited by Fruitonica; 01-28-2009 at 03:59 AM.
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Old 12-06-2008, 04:43 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Any up's? I would'nt mind giving this a listen.
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Old 12-06-2008, 08:37 PM   #3 (permalink)
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No problem.
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Old 12-11-2008, 03:51 PM   #4 (permalink)
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It does'nt immediately jump out at you but the use of live instruments adds another dimension. I would like to hear a lot more of the music and hope that his follow on expands upon the African themes.
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Old 12-11-2008, 05:35 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I actually did find it instantly catchy, a lot of the choruses have a pop-esque melody that sucks me in.
Yeah, I hope that he does expand on the African themes, it's a distinctive sound a rich lyrical vein.
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Old 01-17-2009, 03:43 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Excellent album. The DVD that accompanies it is nice also.
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Old 01-18-2009, 02:57 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Really? I haven't seen it. What's on it?

Good to see another fan, hope you stick around.
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Old 01-18-2009, 12:05 PM   #8 (permalink)
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you might find some of this on his website. he talks about the Soabax video, and the making of. There is a part where he translates the series of lines that end in "soabax." Other than that, a couple of videos.
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Old 03-07-2009, 04:29 PM   #9 (permalink)
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This is one of my favourite new wave of African musicians.

The Dusty Foot Philosopher floored me when I was first exposed to it in 2005. Such a beautifully powerful and honest album.

I have passed this on to virtually every one I know since then.
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Old 03-11-2009, 10:51 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Listening to this right now, I've had it for about 8 months now and I spin it at least once a week. Such a good album, I try to pass it or Troubador onto everyone I can.
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