It's too bad K'naan played on the main stage at Voodoo fest. His personal, live-band hip hop is much better suited for closer quarters.

A lot of K'naan's lyrics relate his personal history (he was born and spent much of his life in the turbulent eastern African country of Somalia); his band backs him up loosely, soulfully, with heart; on stage, he's funny, he's uplifting, he's a great rapper, and he's likeable – heck, he's loveable. But he's a little quiet, too. He had to play on a stage with a lot of empty space, in front of a sparse audience. That’s never an ideal situation in which to see a great act, but it was a bummer to see how much it undermined K’naan’s show.

There were certainly some lyrically thrilling moments. He rapped about Betty White and Frank Sinatra; he confronted others rappers for posturing. "“If I rapped about home and got descriptive/ I'd make 50 Cent look like Limp Bizkit," he rapped, and we laughed.

At his best, he told the story of his life. “I was the seed planted by lovers/ In a refugee camp overseas/ I grew free, I grew more roots/ And became a tree.”

It was a great story – we just wish we could have been a little closer to him when he told it.

Chuck Armstrong