K'naan is a Somali-Canadian Renaissance man who first made a name for himself as a rapper. He was in Minneapolis over the weekend to perform at the West Bank Block party.
But it was K'naan's other career that caused his concert to spin into commotion.
K'naan co-wrote Mogadishu, Minnesota, a HBO drama currently in its initial stages of production about growing up Somali American. Protesters interrupted the rapper's show Saturday to voice what they believe will be an unfair TV portrayal of the community.
"[The show] is going to be talking about how the Somali kids in [Cedar Riverside] are terrorists," a woman with a blowhorn told the crowd. "And he's highlighting this neighborhood, he's highlighting our people, and portraying them as terrorists.… We're here because of circumstances. We're not here to blow shit up. We're more than that."
When Minneapolis police stepped in, protesters chucked rocks and bottles. Police used what's believed to be mace or some other sort of chemical irritant to disburse the throng. Two people were arrested.
Plans for the TV drama executive produced by Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty, The Hurt Locker) first made news last year. Originally titled The Recruiters, it was billed as intending to "draw open an iron curtain behind which viewers will see the highly impenetrable world of Jihadi recruitment."
Within months, the story line had been retooled and re-titled.
"A family struggles to define what it means to be American, while still living among the Somalis of Minneapolis" would be Mogadishu, Minnesota's new hook, according to backstage.com.
The website says filming starts in Minneapolis come October.
K'naan, who'll also serve as director, took to Facebook earlier this month to explain his good intentions, writing, "Together, we are about to take on the media's image of Somalis and Muslims in general, and tell our side of the story — my aim is to present the true and beautiful side that is rarely portrayed in cinema."
This weekend's protest showed there's plenty of people who still who aren't convinced the show will cast Somalis in a fair light.