News Brief

Protests Sparked Over K’naan’s HBO Series ‘Mogadishu, Minnesota’

K’naan's performance at a Minneapolis block party was cut short over protests about his new HBO series "Mogadishu, Minnesota."

Over the weekend, K’naan performed at a block party concert in Minneapolis’ Cedar-Riverside—the focal point of the city’s Somali community—in support of a TV pilot for his upcoming HBO series “Mogadishu, Minnesota.”

The celebration was short-lived, however, as about a dozen protesters stopped the concert, holding signs that read, “K’naan and Bigelow — stop exploiting the Somali community,” and starting chants of “Shut it down,” the Star Tribune reports.

The singer left the stage and then things spiraled out of control: police pepper-sprayed the crowd and two people were arrested.

The debate and anger over K’naan’s “Mogadishu, Minnesota” stems from fears that the show will continue a stereotypical portrayal of Somalis and Somali-Americans as terrorists and pirates.

Young activists protesting the show also aren’t happy that Kathryn Bigelow is involved as the its executive producer. Her previous films Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker, have sparked protest from Muslim communities.

Another issue seems to be that little information has been given about "Mogadishu, Minnesota," which was previously titled “The Recruiters,” and its story.

“I would say that some of the most general themes of the show are addressing how the multigenerational immigrant family — between the second and the first generation — how they process the world through two very different lenses,” K’naan explained to the Star Tribune. “And how in particular, the second-generation young American processes his grievances with this country differently than his parents do.”

“[Radicalization] t is addressed in proportion to what it is in life. And when it is addressed, it is addressed entirely from the point of view of a Somali family. There is no law enforcement point of view in the show.”

K’naan has been holding meetings with the protest leaders since the weekend’s events.

“They actually opened my eyes to something,” he tells the Star Tribune. “Stuck in my own point of view, I was not thinking of how the community could potentially see something like this be damaging."

“There is no precedence for a Muslim Somali man leading the charge, taking control of our narrative, and telling a story that is for them and not against them,” he mentions. “So why should they feel that I can truly be in control of their narrative? When everything about them historically has always been against them. So I have a newfound empathy about that.”

Other local Somali-Americans community leaders have been showing their support for Mogadishu, Minnesota, as the Star Tribune reports:

Many other local Somali-Americans see the TV pilot as a rare chance to boost the community — both in the form of jobs related to the production and by presenting on-screen for the first time a story told from the Somali Muslim point of view. K’naan will do justice to the story, they say, because he is directing, writing and is executive producer.

Mohamud Noor, a community leader, is among those supporting the HBO show, because it was conceived and is being led by “one of our own.” Amid Saturday’s mayhem, he said: “The youth have every right to be angry about something they know nothing about. But it should not have escalated to this level.”


9 Must-Hear Songs From Ghana's Buzzing Drill Scene

We give you the rundown on Ghana's drill movement, Asakaa, and the most popular songs birthed by it.

Red bandanas, streetwear, security dogs, and gang signs. If you've been paying any attention to the music scene in Ghana over the past few months, then by now you would have noticed the rise of a special hip-hop movement. The movement is called Asakaa, and it's the Ghanaian take on the Chicago-born subgenre of hip-hop called drill music. It's fresh, it's hot, it's invigorating and it's nothing like anything you've seen before from this part of the world.

The pioneers of Asakaa are fondly referred to by the genre's patrons as the Kumerica boys, a set of budding young rappers based in the city of Kumasi in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. They came into the limelight towards the end of 2020, and have been dropping banger after banger since then, topping several charts and racking up millions of views collectively. The rap is charismatic, the visuals are captivating, and their swag is urban. Characterized by Twi lyrics, infectious hooks, and sinister beats, the allure and appeal of both their art and their culture is overflowing.

"Sore," one of the benchmark songs of the movement, is a monster hit that exploded into the limelight, earning Kumerican rapper Yaw Tog a feature on Billboard Italy and a recent remix that featured Stormzy. "Ekorso" by Kofi Jamar is the song that took over Ghana's December 2020, with the video currently sitting at 1.3 million views on YouTube. "Off White Flow" is the song that earned rapper Kwaku DMC and his peers a feature on Virgil Abloh's Apple Music show Televised Radio. These are just a few examples of the numerous accolades that the songs birthed from the Asakaa movement have earned. Ghana's drill scene is the new cool, but it isn't just a trend. It's an entire movement, and it's here to stay.

Want to get familiar? Here we highlight the most prominent songs of the Asakaa movement that you need to know. Here's our rundown of Ghana's drill songs that are making waves right now. Check them out below.

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