Troubadour - K'NAAN

Generally favorable reviews - based on 13 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 13
  2. Negative: 0 out of 13
  1. After what K'naan has been through, bless him for trying--the ebullience he extracts from a life much tougher than North Americans can know is worthy of soukous, mbaqanga, the highlife of Ghana's most punishing inflationary spiral.
  2. K'Naan's singular take on the parallels between Africa and America is the strongest thread running through this diverse, socially alert and frequently brilliant sophomore disc.
  3. Troubadour, the Somali-born artist's follow-up to his great debut, is a smart fusion of influences.
  4. Troubadour is thoroughly enjoyable and immediately accessible. It is not as emotionally powerful as its predecessor, but it does continue to show a talented artist that isn’t afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve.
  5. His richly detailed rhymes are part of a more pop-centric stew, and the special guests (Mos Def, Damian Marley, Maroon 5's Adam Levine) make the recipe seem a little overcooked.
  6. Musically, it has only a few elements, but are arranged well, a simplicity the lesser often veer into undeveloped blandness.
  7. 70
    Whether he’s lamenting immigration hassles or imagining himself a depressed American kid fighting in Iraq, this Muslim fan of Biggie and Bruce Lee has a common touch. He’s a universal soldier, not an exotic novelty.
  8. Those elements ring so true for K’naan that it feels like a distraction when he turns to high-profile guests like the Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett (on 'If Rap Gets Jealous') and the Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine (on 'Bang Bang').
  9. Like M.I.A.'s two CDs, Troubadour is Westernized but never compromises its heritage.
  10. Unfortunately, this big-tent spirit also occasionally dilutes some of the elements that made K'naan's debut so striking.
  11. 64
    K'Naan is one of the realest cats going, and although Troubadour feels somewhat derivative, you should at least agree when he notes, "It's OK to feel good." [Holiday 2008, p.100]
  12. The results are usually catchy and interesting.
  13. Some songs work. He makes great use of Ethiopian-sounding jazz samples and M.I.A.-style children’s chants on ABCs, and excels while rapping over some of the album’s otherworldly beats.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 21 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 7
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 7
  3. Negative: 0 out of 7
  1. Nedo
    Mar 12, 2009
    Excellent album K'Naan takes a left turn form the traditional hip hip lyrics and sounds of today and stays true to his intelligent sounds and style while tying in hip hop with, rock, reggae, and African sounds the result is something that appeals to the true masses I give it a 9 because i believe his best work is yet to come keep doing your thing K'Naan. Full Review »
  2. AdonisM
    Mar 5, 2009
    Excellent album. This is good music. People need to have an open mind though. I think traditional rap fans will consider his lyrics simplistic because he doesn't make obvious attempts to show off with wordplay. Hipsters will think he's too mainstream-sounding (songs are MTV-ish). But overall, it is what it is, a really good rap-pop album that is produced and arranged very well. You can tell much thought and effort was put into it. I love it. Full Review »
  3. ScottS
    Mar 1, 2009
    An awesome work - more mature than Dusty Foot, with less anger, some wonderful pop tunes and a great inclusive feeling of redemption via music. Check out the hook of Waving Flag! Full Review »