Students “Shake It” – K’Naan and Wale Perform in the HOP

Bridget Sheppard

With Spring Party Weekend in the near future with the promise of concerts and more concerts, Colgate gave students an early taste of the music to come when K’naan and Wale visited Thursday, April 15 at the Hall of Presidents. The event started at 8 p.m., but beforehand a line formed out of the HOP as students eagerly awaited the concert, which had to be limited to 560 people, the number deemed the HOP’s capacity by Campus Safety. Once inside, the crowd could dance, purchase merchandise and sing along to the two musicians. Wale announced in March of this year that he and K’naan would be starting this co-headlining tour across the East coast, and thankfully they did, so that they could make a stop at Colgate.

Wale, a rapper from Washington, D.C., opened the night, entertaining the audience in the HOP with his songs, which he himself has described as “a more raw, percussion-driven offshoot of disco.” Born to Nigerian immigrants, Wale became popular in 2006 with the single “Dig Dug (Shake It),” and, after releasing several mixtapes, he released his first album, Attention Deficit, in 2009. His alternative hip-hop style and lyrics energized the crowd and prepared everyone present for K’naan to appear afterwards.

The main performer, K’naan, was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, where he lived during the Somali civil war that started in 1991. Coming from a family involved in the arts, K’naan has an aunt, Magool, who was a singer, and a grandfather, Haji Mohamed, who was a poet. His father, who emigrated to America before the rest of K’naan’s family, also encouraged the arts by sending his son hip hop records during his youth. At the age thirteen, K’naan, along with his mother and two siblings, traveled to Harlem on what ended up being the last commercial flight to leave Somalia and arrive in the U.S., and then to Toronto, Ontario and has lived there until today. Once here, K’naan learned English, finding a talent and affinity for rap. His first performance was a spoken word piece for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 1999 condemning the UN’s failed aid to Somalia. From that point on, his career escalated as he contributed to Youssou N’Dour’s album Building Bridges, performed at future UN events, and eventually created his first album, The Dusty Foot Philosopher in 2005. Since then, K’naan has been touring, promoting his follow-up album release in 2009, Troubadour, and, last week, coming to Colgate.

K’naan excited the crowd with his music and everyone enjoyed dancing and singing with him into the night. In the end, despite the wait outside earlier, those who attended the concert seemed to enjoy themselves and the music. Wale and K’naan successfully built up anticipation for the future artists coming to give concerts. Fortunately for Colgate students, too, this concert is only the beginning of the music coming to campus this spring, so now everyone can look forward to more opportunities for dance and song as Spring Party Weekend approaches.