K’naan is the stage name of Keinan Abdi Warsame (Somali: Keuynaan Cabdi Warsame, Arabic Keynan ‘bdi Warsamah) a Somali-Canadian poet, songwriter, singer, rapper and instrumentalist.
Keinan Abdi Warsame was born on the 1st of February 1978 in Mogandishu Somalia, where he spent his childhood. He is of the muslim religion and his name, Keinan, means traveler in the Somali language. He was born in a fairly cultural family, his aunt, Magool, being one of the most well known singers in Somalia at that time and his grandfather, Haji Mohammad, being a poet.
His early ears were greatly influenced by the hip-hop records his father used to send to him from America, as he has migrated to America. When he was 13, his mother and 3 siblings have migrated to New York in America. After a short period his entire family migrated to Toronto, Canada, in the Rexdale neighborhood where it was a large Somali community. Here is where K’naan began to learn English by listening to hip-hop and rap music.
With the aid of Sol Guy, his friend and associate, he was able to obtain a speaking engagement before the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 1999, where he performed a spoke word piece in which he criticized the UN mission to Somalia. One person in the audience, singer Youssou N’Dour of Senegalese was so impressed by the performance that he invited him to collaborate on his album and tour.
During this period he met Canadian producer Jarvis Church, who produced his debut album The Dusty Foot Philosopher which was released in 2005.
After the release of his first album, K’naan has been constantly on tour to promote his albums or for various events.