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Keinan 'K'naan' Warsame was born in Somalia and spent his childhood in Mogadishu, living there during the Somali Civil War, which began in 1991. K'naan's grandfather, Haji Mohammad, was a poet and his aunt, Magool, one of Somalia's most famous singers. The young Somalian acquired an early interest in Hip-Hop from the records that were sent to him from America by his father. K'naan describes growing up in Somalia amidst the ongoing warfare in this song. "I came out of a killer/ Neighborhood called River/ Where life expectancy is shorter than a caterpillar/ I was once a gorilla/ Mogadishu was my cage/ My trainer was the gauge," he raps.
When he was 13, K'naan, his mother, and his three siblings left their homeland and joined relatives in New York City, where they stayed briefly before moving to the Toronto neighborhood of Rexdale where there was a large Somali community. K'naan says in this song that his upbringing was nothing compared to the life of the King of Zamunda - the character portrayed in the 1988 film Coming To America - his early years were "too gory."
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