Is it cool if I call K'naan a genius? His nearly flawless Troubadour album released early this year demonstrated both razor-sharp lyrical skills and acute global consciousness: unlike other rappers who handle social issues with a transparent righteousness that indicates a total absence of lived experience, K'naan's perspective as a Somalian-American-Canadian war refugee is combined with his prodigious production and writing abilities to deliver a true artist and necessary voice in hip-hop today. For better or for worse, you'll get to know him very well when his anthemic "Wavin' Flag" features as the theme song for Coca-Cola's World Cup 2010 campaign.
Over on the Huffington Post, K'naan delivers a poetic and compelling opinion piece, "The Problem of Charity," wherein he points out the virtual lack of agency of those receiving good-intentioned philanthropy as well as questions the naivete of those intentions. His conclusion is a bit too morally laissez-faire for the set-up, but it's good to see rappers switch it up and tackle the themes that resonate through their music in essay form, even if there's no real punchline.