A native of Mogadishu by way of Canada, K'Naan is unlike anyone else in the world of hip-hop. He learned to speak English by studying the songs of Nas and Rakim, but his music encompasses much more than hip-hop. Flowing through this playlist are samples and live instrumentation; traditional African styles and modern pop; bits of rap music, reggae, and sweeping rock balladry. Who else can count Bono, will.i.am, and Kirk Hammett among their collaborators? K'naan reaches for a sound that traverses borders, but like Bob Marley before, the struggles of his native country form the foundation of his crossover pop hits.