Published Jun 10, 2010Few were surprised when we reported that Somali-Canadian rapper K'naan's sky-reaching, heartstring-tugging song "Wavin' Flag" was chosen as an anthem of this year's FIFA World Cup. It had everything an anthem required, plus a little more. Unfortunately, that "little more" included honest, yet contentious, lyrics about the rapper's homeland, ones that Coca-Cola wanted out before they could commercialize the song.
In a recent interview with Billboard, it was revealed that before the song could be used by the soft drink giant, Coke asked K'naan to rewrite the lyrics, which called Somalia "a violent prone, poor people zone," referring to its people "struggling, fighting to eat." K'naan complied, and in the interview, defended his choice before anyone could cry "sellout."
"I saw it as an opportunity to reach more people," he said. "I don't work for Coke or anything; what I do is my music. This was a really great opportunity for them to use my song, without compromising my integrity as a musician. This is what I write, these are the songs I make. I'm happy about it."
"Wavin' Flag" will be released as a single in 150 countries this summer, and is currently available in 12 different countries as duets with local superstars. Spain/Latin America, France, Greece, Brazil, Thailand, South Africa, the Middle East, Indonesia, Nigeria, China and Japan all have unique versions of the song, as does the United States, in which the song was recently released as a remix with David Guetta and Black Eyed Peas' Will.i.am.
Of course, the "sellout" argument involves a huge grey area that we're going to stay out of.
We mean, we love K'naan as much as the next person, but Will.i.am? Ugh.