Sunday, 11 November 2012

K'naan - Country, God or the Girl

K'naan's fourth album Country, God or the Girl is a little bit like The Black Eyed Peas - once a hip-hop group and now a laughing stock by the community they once represented. For The Black Eyed Peas, signing to A&M and Fergie killed them. K'naan's third album Troubadour was released on A&M/Octone, following the route of The Black Eyed Peas. Troubadour was actually an educational lengthy and technical alternative hip-hop album released in 2009. It featured high profile names and furthered K'naan's spreading of the East African country Somalia. One of his better tracks, "Wavin' Flag" was commissioned by Coca-Cola to be their anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It's a spectacular track and one that pretty much filled his ego beyond belief. 

Opening track “The Seed" is over within 90 seconds. K'naan has been helped by a production team and a writing team, killing off his lyricism with a repetitious chorus. Likewise, "Gold In Timbukto" enters and leaves without any real character. The lyrics are okay at best, with K'naan spitting his life views. He raps: "But life goes on how ironic, If I could do it over I'd probably smoke chronic," poorly referencing Tupac Shakur in the process. He used to be blunt with his lyrics, for example on the original "If The Rap Gets Jealous" he raps: "So good things come to those who wait. Sure, I've waited about pop-pop-pop-pop. That's four cousins shot." 

Coldplay's "Lost" makes a surprising appearance on the fourth track "Better", a poptastic Wavin Flag referencing jam. The hook is pretty much awful and meritless, same with the tedious verses. "Waiting Is a Drug" fails to make its mark, like the fifth track "Simple", both are forgettable and feature the pop production we hear on a regular basis at 3pm on Radio 1. The same production reaches a record low on the pre-release single "Is Anybody Out There?" Nelly Furtado makes an appearance, just her name warrants this track the genre pop instead of hip-hop. The shift from a underprivileged hip-hop icon to a privileged pop icon is drastic and this track only highlights the lack of imagination K'naan has in his lyricism. Eight people have writing credits on this track, so we can't direct all the pop criticism to K'naan

The main bulk of Country, God or the Girl features writing credits by people other than K'naan. "Hurt Me Tomorrow" annoyingly uses autotune. It's one of the singles and it's hardly surprising really. The lyrics reveal nothing, probably down to the writing team - Ryan Tedder, Evan Bogart and Noel Zancanella all get credit. RedOne is part of the production team on this album and his presence can be felt on the terrible track "The Sound of My Breaking Heart". The acoustic guitar riff and bland drum programming will remind listeners of the eurodance group Vengaboys. I'm not going to beat around the bush, this is straight up horrendous. Think of a primary school disco with cheesy 90s tunes, yeah... That's “The Sound of My Breaking Heart”...

Collaborations have always been a key feature for hip-hop albums, so when Bono popped up on "Bulletproof Pride", I cried. Well that's an overstatement, but what on earth is Bono doing here? This is an actual nightmare and K'naan needs to get out of it. Listening to this track summarises the album in itself. K'naan released three moderately unique albums in the last decade; it's become evident that he no longer has something to say. "70 Excuses" is a perfect example of an artist clawing for lyricism. His collaboration with Nas on "Nothing To Loose" is the best track here. K'naan delivers a pathetic opening verse, but Nas saves the entire album with his verse. 

Country, God or the Girl is a tasteless album. The production is flat and K'naan's lyricism is completely off-putting. His ego takes control for the most part of the album, such as with “Better” where he raps: "I'm only getting better." On one of his worst tracks to date, he says: "But life goes on how ironic," he should of mocked his direction and mashed these two separate lyrics together to create 'I'm only getting better, how ironic'. All the singles are generic and the whole album is commercial baloney. 



  1. I thought 70 excuses, the wall, Nothing to lose were the best tracks in the album. Overall I rate this album a 5 out of 10 at best and this is coming from a huge K'naan fan. I personally thought "The Dusty Foot Philosopher" was an amazing album and I listen to it time and time again to remind myself of how good K'naan really was. He was one of the few I hope wouldn't sell out like this.

  2. 70 Excuses'instrumental wasn't bad, I just had problems with lyrics and lyrical structure. I'm in the same boat as you with TDFP and how he's "sold out". I think it down to the label / RedOne (as producer) for that reason. He did say he didn't want to be associated with the "gangsta" side of things,and this is pop really.