Raise Up Knaan is in the Building-Make Room at the Table


Raise Up Knaan is in the Building-Make Room at the Table

by Davey D

Listen to the Breakdown FM interview w/ Knaan by clicking link below:


Davey DI met Somalian born rapper Knaan about 3 or 4 years ago in his current place of residence Toronto. We chopped it up back then and he assured me that it was just a matter of time before the US Hip Hop scene would open its arms to rappers from other shores. At the time that seemed far fetched because even though we all know that Hip Hop is a worldwide phenomenon, very few heads in the states can cite more than 3 or 4 artists from neighboring Canada much less from overseas. Ask folks to name artists from Africa and the conversation is all but over…

On one hand we should not be surprised. After all, Hip Hop always reflects the mindset and cultural mores of the people and places that embrace it.Hence to the degree we can hardly name off any of the Provinces in Canada it should not be a shock that we can’t name off any of her artists.

Nowadays Knaan is increasingly becoming a household word here in the states. He’s already a superstar overseas. For many he’s a breath of fresh air who reminds us just how flavorful good Hip Hop can be. His creativity and overall conversation raises the bar. His global perspectives reminds us that this is a big big world and our country is just a small part of it..

We caught up with Knaan during his visit at SXSW in Austin, Tx and chopped it up with him. We talked about his new album Troubadour which is a monster and what he was trying to get across. We talked about the challenges of knocking down doors in the US. Knaan quoted Saul Williams by agreeing with the assertion that Hip Hop has been republican in the past 10 years. Its been about money, closing its eyes to the realities outside its immediate borders and very unwilling to change.
He sees things changing for the better and that’s a good thing.

We covered a variety of topics including the recent move by Homeland security to scrutinize Somalis living here in the US as possible terrorists. We talked about the whole Somali pirates thing and discovered that what we been fed by mainstream news is a big lie. Knaan explained that the so called pirates are actually more like Coast Guards. They been patrolling the waters and stepping to foreign vessels that look at the un-centralized government in Somalia and hence feel they can do pillage the natural resources like over the top commercial fishing and illegal dumping of hazardous wastes. The Somalia pirates have been stepping to vessels for violating their water space and have taken the matter up to the UN only to have the main violators France along with the US veto any resolution..

knaanWe talked about the make up of Knaan’s album and what it was like working with Maroon 5’s Adam Levine and Hip Hop legend Chubb Rock. He explained that Levine was a real cool and basically came through and laid down vocals for free. He just wanted to show respect and appreciation for the music.

He talked about admiring Chubb Rock’s rhyme flow and how it was an honor to have the rapper turned school teacher to come through and lace him up.

Knaan also talked about his rhyme influences which actually come from the Rhythmic Poets of Somalia. These wordsmith have been around centuries before the first rappers in the Bronx

Finally we talked about the state of the world and how US and US Hip Hop fit into things. Knaan noted that the US is now going a period where many of its citizens are feeling vulnerable and at ease. he noted its the same type of uneasiness that many throughout the world feel on a day to day basis. Our economic hardships are routine for the majority of the people around the world and now that type of situation is on our shores and we will have to not only rise to the occasion be much more aware of what the rest of planet earth is experiencing.

Listen to the Breakdown FM Interview w/ Knaan by clicking the link below:


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Breakdown FM-Taking Over Hip Hop-An Interview w/ Zion I


We sat down and talked with Zumbi of the group Zion I and celebrated the release of their much anticipated album ‘The Takeover’. Its a masterpiece of an album that features brother Ali, Courtney Holiday, Ty, jennifer Johns, Omega and more. We walk through many of the cuts and marvel at the group’s attempts to make a timeless album that journeys through the history of Black American music styles

In this interview we talk about everything from gentrification to life in the hood and the importance of  Black manhood and  Barack Obama.

You can peep the Breakdown FM interview by clicking the link below


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CEDITORIAL: Why New York is not Winning

CEDITORIAL: Why New York is not Winning
Written by Big Ced

What made New York, in terms of Hip-Hop, the place to be, was the abundance of talent and the stories that needed to be told to the masses. It wasn’t the poverty or the ghetto life that separated New York from the world, it was the melting pot, the air, the uniqueness of the city that made it stand out. It was also the sights, the atmosphere, the grittiness of the city that made it a place that others either wanted to visit or stay far away from. Any way you looked at it, it was always a place that was the center of attraction.

And I’m not speaking only in terms of Hip-Hop or even music. We have the Broadway shows, Central Park, the Botanical Gardens, Coney Island, etc. I could list all the major attractions and still have more places and things that make this great city stand out. Malcolm X, the Civil Rights Movement and Gay and Lesbian protests. And let’s not forget the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Polo Grounds, Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden and the New York Giants. See where I’m going with this? It will never be just one event or attraction that makes us so notable.

Wall Street, the Empire State Building and the financial district. King Kong. All in the Family, the Jeffersons, NYPD Blue and New York Undercover. Union Square, the Tunnel, Studio 54 and the Palladium. Sylvias, Copelands and Amy Ruths. Damn, this could go on for days.

But the real reason for me writing this is the rumor (or is it truth) that New York Hip-Hop is dead, wack, stale, doesnt matter anymore. Why does it take Jay-Z or Nas to make NY relevant? Where are the new cats who were supposed to take off where Jay left off? Remember when Public Enemy, KRS-ONE, Das Efx, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G. Rap, Slick Rick and every other successful New York Hip-Hop artist was hot and doing it? Remember when MC Hammer, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Uncle Luke, Common and any other emcee outside of NY wanted to be accepted by New York? What happened to those days?

Now we all have theories. Its time for other regions, people were sick of the NY sound, cats outside the region didnt care about being accepted by NY. Maybe we are the victims of our own arrogance. Maybe there were too many hot NY emcees and the competition with each other allowed everyone else to sneak in and take it from us. Doesnt matter, we are officially wack right now and there is only one thing that will put us back on top again! And no, its not the Jay-Z/Nas collaboration we are anticipating. NY is missing a great big factor that was the VERY reason why New York is envied, yet targeted, even by terrorists. We have something that is built in us, especially if we are born here, others gain once they move here and others elsewhere try to duplicate it with their own twist. Once we get this back, WE WILL WIN and be BACK ON TOP! Its one simple word and all the great emcees, past, current and hopefully, future heads has had and/or have. Are you ready? SWAGGER!!!

Let me repeat that word for the people who didnt read it correctly the first time, SWAGGER. Thats what we are missing! I am challenging the new breed of emcees to start incorporating that in the way they do things. I dont feel that from any of the new, what I call, mentionables. Papoose, Jae Millz, Maino, etc. Granted, all are talented, some even lyrical, but I dont feel the swaggerness from them that I feel from a 50 Cent, a Ludacris, a T.I. when those guys do ANYTHING and Im not just talking about them rapping. They all have an air about them that makes you take notice to them, something this new crop is lacking. Once those young bucks realize that the swagger will make them hot, they will get it.

And on another note, New York Hip-Hop was always known for its diversity and grittiness. I had a conversation with Uncle Luke yesterday and he stated that you cant know the streets if you are not in the streets. I agree completely, every one is trying to be Puff and Jay and anyone else who is able to afford the bling lifestyle, yet they dont want to work to get there. And another thing, STOP TRYING TO MAKE MUSIC LIKE THE OTHER HOT REGIONS AT THE TIME! We were hot because we went to the beat of our own drum, but nowadays, if Atlanta is hot, niggas from NY are trying to be like Atlanta. When are we gonna say fuck everybody and lets take the lead once again? We NEVER followed, we may have borrowed and made it ours, but we NEVER followed, but the current crop, all they do is mimic what the others are doing and until the cycle is broken and the right emcees lead the way, we will always be lagging in the Hip-Hop world, a world WE created, nurtured and controlled. Now all we can do is look as everyone else surpasses us in EVERYTHING!

In closing, cause Ive CED a lot, I am from New York, I live in New York, I will always represent New York, but no one likes being on a losing team. Right now we are the New York Knicks. Several years ago, ok, many years ago (during the Charles Oakley, Xavier McDaniels, Jon Starks days), whenever a basketball team came into Madison Square Garden, they knew they were in for a fight and a loss, now, they come into the Garden knowing it will be easy. NY Hip-Hop right now is the New York Knicks. Regardless of who is coaching, the team STILL SUCKS.

We need to get the dynasty going again, like The New York Yankees. No one was beating the Yankees in the seventies, they went through a slump and who is beating them now (In terms of constantly being one of the better teams)? We need to be the New York Yankees, not the New York Knicks, but more importantly, we need to take the game back! We need to be the leaders! We need to be the trend setters again! We need to get down and dirty once more to prove that we can get dirty and come out on top again. But until that happens, we may as well stop claiming where were from cause it wont matter. Its not what we did yesterday, its what we are doing tomorrow!

Big Ced is the founder of Industry Cosign and one of the most respected executives in the entertainment industry. You can check out his site at www.industrycosign.com

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