K'naan, known for his thought-provoking music and the blockbuster
anthem Wavin' Flag, has landed a high-profile gig for 2014: the Kennedy
Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
The Canadian rapper will join American rap star Nas and other artists
for the venue's first-ever festival focusing on hip hop, a weeklong
event dubbed One Mic: Hip-Hop Culture Worldwide that is set for 2014.
Along with rap performances, the festival will highlight DJing and
graffiti art. The hip-hop celebration is part of the centre's 2013-2014
"Hip-hop is clearly something new and different for us," Kennedy
Center president Michael Kaiser said on Tuesday, as he unveiled the new
He noted that the Kennedy Center has previously held festivals
celebrating country and gospel music — genres that are also less
familiar to its concert halls.
"I think to do something very current is important. We're trying to speak to many different audiences."
Last September, K'naan released the autobiographical children's book When I Get Older: The Story Behind Wavin' Flag,
which depicted his youth in Somalia, his family's decision to flee the
country amid civil war and the challenges of his new life in New York
Just weeks later, he released an anticipated new album, Country, God or the Girl, which features a number of high-profile collaborations, including with U2's Bono.
In December, the New York-based K'naan penned a revealing personal
essay about fame, artistic integrity and the music industry for the New
York Times. In it, he essentially apologized for releasing new songs
that were "more Top 40 friendly, but infinitely cheaper" than his
"So I am not the easiest sell to Top 40 radio," he wrote in the Times.
"What I am is a fox who wanted to walk like a prophet and now is trying to rediscover its own stride."