Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

New songs from K'naan won't be 'safe'

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TORONTO -- Somali-Canadian rapper K'naan says lingering disappointment over his last album is pushing him to write and release a new batch of songs.

The Wavin' Flag musician says he's found renewed focus to "be honest" in his work, after playing it too safe with 2012's Country, God or the Girl.

His disdain for last year's disc was laid bare in a New York Times opinion piece published in December 2012.

In it, K'naan recounted label pressure to cater his dense global rhymes to a pop-loving female, teenage U.S. audience.

K'naan, who draws much of his inspiration from his troubled homeland, now says he's been thinking a lot about the artist he wants to be and the kind of music he wants to make.

"It's a very instinctual album, (there's) not a lot of mulling over it," K'naan says of the new songs. "I just felt like I had to do things this time around that felt pretty urgent to me."

And he is hoping to get the material out into the world as soon as he can, largely because of regretful choices made with Country, God or the Girl.

"My previous work -- with the exception of the last record -- you wouldn't call those songs safe, you know," he continues.

"They weren't structured around any kind of a pop success or idea around success. They were just what one thought they had to do or say."

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 18, 2013 G4

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