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101 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. T.I.A. [Explicit]
  2. ABC's [Explicit]
  3. Dreamer [Explicit]
  4. I Come Prepared [Explicit]
  5. Bang Bang [Explicit]
  6. If Rap Gets Jealous [Explicit]
  7. Wavin' Flag
  8. Somalia [Explicit]
  9. America [Explicit]
  10. Fatima
  11. Fire In Freetown
  12. Take A Minute [Explicit]
  13. 15 Minutes Away
  14. People Like Me

Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 24, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: A&M/Octone
  • ASIN: B001L2I27O
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #202,450 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Diane Kistner TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 21, 2009
Format: Audio CD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I try to be hip, but it's a little hard for an "old white lady" to be truly hip. I got Troubadour, I confess, because this hippie chick always liked reggae and I wanted to see how the musical elements were blended. My experience with Hip Hop is largely what I've heard blaring too loudly out of cars I'm stuck beside in traffic--that and the Sarah Palin SNL "mother-lovin' moose" skit--but those eyes rolling at me when I hurriedly roll up my window plus the knowledge that Hip Hop is sweeping the world in popularity made me want to educate myself so I'd be a little less square. (Well, that's the word we used to use for it. I have no idea what the same thing is in the current hip vernacular!)

I have to say that I liked this CD more than I thought I would. First off, I was pleasantly surprised at how well K'naan enunciates his words. One of things I've disliked so much about rap lyrics is that I often cannot make out much more than the four-letter words; then what comes across is a bunch of anger and ugliness without much in the way of content to enlighten me and draw me in. This compilation is different. I can understand what's being said, and what's being said is often meaningful--and more broadly so--than most of the rap I've been exposed to has seemed to me. K'naan is just as adept as some infamous rappers at using those four-letter words, but they are used to good effect--not solely for their shock value or as a coded badge of entry for members of a narrowly circumscribed, exclusive little club.

The way K'naan and his collaborators juxtapose rap rhythms with more traditional musical elements is appealing. When there is a spoken rap line, the elements backing it up are more melodic; when the vocals are sung (as on my favorite tracks), the beat is more rap-like.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Andrew I. Schamess on February 24, 2009
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
I'm not usually a rap fan - I listen more to jazz, roots and world music - but I really enjoyed this album. Musically it runs a wide spectrum, from African-tinged rap, to pop, with even a rock number thrown in. K'naan does a great job with all these genres. He's a very talented songwriter and singer with a lot to say.

It's interesting to hear a voice from Somalia after reading about it so often in the paper: "the worse place in the world right now" as K'naan says in one song. His descriptions of a childhood on the streets are very poignant and his songs about hope and pursuing his dreams are really moving.

The song "Waving Flag" picks up Bob Marley's mantle. K'naan is not Marley, but then, neither was Marley when he started out.

I am sure other reviewers will write about this in the context of rap music, and how K'naan stands up to American rappers; but even if you are not a rap fan, you should still check out this album. K'naan is an important voice and his music resonates well beyond any one genre or listener group.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 27, 2009
Format: Audio CD
The first song I heard (Bang Bang fet. Adam Levine) blew me away. It made me want to hear more...I listened to the record on Amazon's listening party and it was easily the freshest music I've heard so far this year (along with Lily Allen's It's Not Me It's You) especially in hip-hop.
There's really not a bad or filler track on here, but my favorite songs are Bang Bang/If Rap Gets Jealous/Wavin' Flag/Take a Minute/ People Like Me. I think he sounds like Wyclef meets the best possible way. Very positive approach towards a life that throws too many curveballs.
I would recommend this to anyone who likes popular music!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Philip R. Heath TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 24, 2009
Format: Audio CD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Troubadour is the sophomore offering from Somali rapper K'Naan. I have to admit that this is a bit outside of my normal listening genres. However, I liked what I heard on the samples, and I am also a big Kirk Hammett fan (see my review of Death Magnetic). So I decided to branch out and give this a shot. As such I offer an "outsider's" perspective on this CD.

I must say that I'm glad that I took a shot on Troubadour. While I don't have a lot of experience to draw from, I get the distinct impression that there is something different about this CD. K'Naan's songs speak about real problems beyond the U.S. borders. While many of the subjects are about the grim and grizzly reality of growing up in war torn Somalia, K'Naan always comes back the fact that he is a survivor. Even though his life began in dire straits, he has overcome these extreme obstacles to be successful. I believe that his background keeps him from wandering down thepaths of excess and gratuitous sex and violence that is so prevalent in rap and hip-hop. Songs such as " ABCs" give light to the life children in Somalia face "They don't teach us the ABCs. All we have is life on the streets." As compelling as this subject is, many people will need something more that they can relate to. K'Naan takes care of this. The closer, "People Like Me", unites K'Naan's trials to those of a soldier in Iraq and a struggling single mother. The chorus says it all "Heaven, is there a chance that you could come down and open doors to hurting people like me." K'Naan also has a couple of songs about the ladies, but he avoids the cliches and degradation that is so common. While "Bang Bang" is more lighthearted and playful, "Fatima" is a more solemn song about a love lost.
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