If you happened to catch even a glance of this summer’s FIFA World Cup, odds are you heard Canadian rapper K’Naan’s anthemic “Wavin’ Flag” during the pre-game show. That’s a long way from the Somalian childhood of Keinan Warsame, a boy who fired his first gun at age eight, demolished half his school with an accidentally detonated hand grenade at age 11, and fled from gunmen at age 12—narrowly escaping with his life. And while he may be inspired by a history of violence and pain, K’Naan writes stunning songs filled with triumph and uplift. He still maintains the English language lacks expression compared to his native Somali, but the poetics and storytelling he’s capable of in any tongue only speak to his talent. With Paper Tongues, Kid Hops. NICK FELDMAN

Sat., Oct. 30, 8 p.m., 2010

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