Interesting article about African hip hop artists and the debate over whether addressing politics hinders mainstream success.

CHICAGO – When rapper K’Naan was recording songs peppered with tales about warfare, poverty and despair in his native Somalia, there were people who told him he should consider abandoning his socially conscious frame of mind for material that wasn’t so somber.

Most of those people were Somalis, K’Naan recalls.

“They didn’t want someone’s shining talent to be wasted on such a disaster,” K’Naan said recently. “They wanted to see themselves out there, and they knew there was rarely a chance that you could do it while carrying the baggage of Somalia. So they would say, ‘Put it down and just go and be a star like these other people are.’”

But K’Naan, along with a new generation of African-born singers like Nneka and Cornielle, are getting acclaim these days by using their experiences to express political messages, varied life experiences and sounds influenced by their years on the continent.  read more

Of course, we are way in favor of music and art that exposes political and social situations.  But we’ve never claimed to be mainstream. ;)

Were all of you as addicted to K’Naan’s world cup anthem as I was?  Did you ever download the original version?