2009 release. Recorded primarily in Kingston, Jamaica where K'Naan was granted unprecedented access by his friends Stephen and Damian Marley to their father Bob Marley's original home studio at 56 Hope Road and the legendary Tuff Gong studios Troubadour is a Hip Hop album like no other. K'Naan successfully blends samples and live instrumentation for a sound that's both rooted in traditional African melodies and the classic Hip Hop tradition. Features Kirk Hammett of Metallica on the song 'If Rap Gets Jealous'.
After his debut album--The Dusty Foot Philosopher
--took Canada by storm and collected a 2006 Juno Award for Rap Recording of the Year, the pressure was on for K’Naan’s major label follow-up. Troubadour
, in a word, delivers. Lyrically, the Somali ex-pat out-rhymes the majority of his native English-speaking counterparts with a mix of violent personal history and charismatic uplift, the occasional melodic chorus, and a voice that’s fairly compared to Eminem’s but more accurately recalls the upper-register nasality of Pharcyde’s Booty Brown. Pop-leaning cuts like “Dreamers” and “15 Minutes Away” duck in and out of instrumentals that borrow from Afrobeat (“Fire in Freetown”), a world/soul sound that hits its apex in the gorgeous “Wavin’ Flag,” and hip-hop’s best use yet of a Bob Marley sample (opener “T.I.A.”). Recorded at Marley’s legendary Tuff Gong studio in Jamaica, the album gets a heavy dose of collaborative energy from such diverse contributors as Mos Def, Chubb Rock, Maroon 5’s Adam Levine (“Bang Bang”), and Metallica’s Kirk Hammett (“If Rap Gets Jealous”). In a year that has already seen an early girth of really strong rap releases that eschew the superficial violence, misogyny, and inanity of most radio fare, Troubadour
stands as a front-runner for Hip-Hop Album of the Year. --Jason Kirk