Published on August 1st, 2014 | by Jameelah "Just Jay" Wilkerson0
Damani Nkosi: Hip-Hop With No Boundaries
Let’s hop right into this brand new studio LP, Thoughtful King — Conceptually, what does that title represent both to and for you?
The title represents to me literally the African meaning of my name, Damani, meaning Thoughtful and Nkosi meaning chief or ruler…Conceptually, my plan was to express my thoughts on this album in a noble way with honesty and integrity like a King would.
How does Thoughtful King either differ and/or compare to previous Damani efforts?
Concepts and rhymes were always my strong-point as an artist. What sets this apart from my past work, is more Focus on Truth rather than just Facts.
Thoughtful King is also executive produced by Mr. Warryn Campbell — What particular string of events actually led to this union?
I approached Warryn with a record I recorded called “FreeDumb (Chains Off)” and he loved the record, so I went on a hour rant about how his “live” music arrangements over classic break-beats can change Hip-Hop’s course. The lyrics were spiritually based, and the marriage of all those elements started us on a path to greatness.
On the set’s lead offering, “Now That’s Love,” you teamed up with both Musiq Soulchild and Robert Glasper — How did these particular connections come about?
Warryn first played me the beat and told me he had something special for me. I loved the track instantly and started writing to it. I didn’t have a hook for it, so Warryn started singing El DeBarge’s song “Love Me in a Special Way” and it was perfect! I asked him if he can call Musiq since they were friends, he played it for Musiq, he loved it and the rest is history. Later, we played it for Robert Glasper –Jazz pianist — who also loved what we did, and played a solo at the end that came out incredible.
How would you describe and/or define the style of music that you create and perform?
This is straight Hip-Hop with no boundaries! This is Hip-Hop with every music influence injected into it. I don’t know how to describe it…It’s just music to me.
Reflecting, how did you first discover your musical talent?
It’s hard to say…I think I discovered it at about 18 years old. That’s when I started knowing my rhymes was dope! Before then, I was just a teen who LOVED Hip-Hop, and all my parents’ old school music. My mom was all classic R&B and my dad was ALL JAZZ!
Who have been your greatest inspirations musically and why?
Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a huge fan of the the whole ’70’s African-American music movement. Just about every soul singer from the ’70’s is my favorite! *Damani chuckles* In Hip-Hop, I love full eras as a collective; the ’80’s, the ’90’s, ’00’s…
What do you feel you offer the music industry that we don’t already have in other performers?
My perspective on life does not exist in the music industry. My perspective was formed through events that happened to me in my life. As long as I stay true to expressing myself as a performer, there will never be and there has never been someone like me. I offer a honest account of the artist Damani Nkosi.
Have you encountered any problems in getting to this point in your career?
My whole career has been one obstacle after another. Always a fight, but such is life.
What do you want people to get from your music?
I want people to listen and feel good, and be in good spirits when Damani is on. I want people to smile, laugh and think about what’s real, while being entertained. And, if they started listening without those emotions present at the time, then I want the music to be healing.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
My greatest achievement has been accepting the truth of in knowing that, “It’s not because of me, but its through me.”
If you could collaborate with any one artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Curtis Mayfield and or Oscar Brown, Jr.. I love the clever, honest, straight forward soulful truths they sung and talked about in their music. Pure genius.
If you could play any venue in the world, which one would you choose and why?
I would play a sold out “Fabulous” Forum in Inglewood, California, where my whole family, friends, etcetera, can come watch. I grew up around the corner and The Lakers won multiple championships in that building — That would be dope!
One track of yours that you think defines you and why?
“RICH” defines me. It speaks to my principles and my integrity as a man. I’m not perfect in it, but that song has the right amount of aggression and wordplay that lets you see into how I see myself.
– Damani, InglewoodCityBehindMe
Interviewed By: Hype Staff