Last week’s prediction: From the UK?
Sorry, but aesthetics matter, no matter where you are on the globe. No coincidence that the Somalia-born K’naan learned to speak English off the phonetics on Rakim and Nas albums; talent will travel, before during and after things like rap go global. So while I like the story as much as the next man–young aspiring Kaynaan Warsame hops the last plane out of Somalia in 1991, shoots guns as a kid, lands in Harlem, then Canada, finally fulfilling, M.I.A.-like, a couple of different cultural destinies–let’s also acknowledge that only in Canada does his Pharcyde-gone-Ricky Martin “flow” pass as rap. Unlike will.i.am’s, K’naan’s patois is assuredly real, but beyond that, both are passing air through the same rapidly leaking balloon.
Did I mention Maroon 5’s Adam Levine sings the hook on this song? Troubadour, out to today, also sports cameos from Chubb Rock, Kirk Hammett, Damian Marley, Mos Def, a kind of tin-ear brigade if there ever was one, the last guys you’d trust with anything immediately outside their own lane. “Bang Bang” is global hip-hop in the same way the Baha Men were global hip-hop: dumb in any language. It’s not that he’s not fluent, I guess (“Bang Bang”‘s Bootie Brown quote is pretty eerie, actually); I just don’t like the cadence.
My publicist is actually getting in touch with the New York Times, they might print something of mine as an opinion piece on the pirate scenario:
Next week’s prediction: Jagged shadows edge over a purpled plain. The armies face one another and salute. A single rider descends, moving down the curve in the land. A sudden intake of breath is audible.