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The very first time I saw Damani Nkosi was August 2006 at an MTV Award Pre-Party by Lil Kim. Also the first time I met Snoop Dogg. I did not really meet Damani at that night, just looking back at those pictures a while I go, I spotted him in one of the photos. But we did not physically meet at this point.

The first time Damani Nkosi and me really met was a year later in 2007. It was at a studio in Hollywood, during a recording session with Snoop. Right before the studio got shut down and moved to a different location. It might have been in March, and Damani Nkosi was still Damani at that point. He was the international player. Rapping about girls and money. Shot videos and performed in Paris and China, having videos on BET and MTV, having his own shoe with Adidas, and everything without a mayor record deal, and on top of that had everybody else questioning how he did it.

damani old

I remember Damani as a charming person, a funny guy. When you are in the room with him and trying to make fun, you better watch yourself, because he will turn the joke around and aim it right back at you. At the same time I remember him as the guy from Inglewood, not really gang affiliated but always protecting himself, caring a gun around at any occasion. At that point he were part and founder of the group Westurn Union, later Dubb Union. Originally it was Bad Lucc and Damani, but later on Soopafly joined the group as a producer and rapper. They released an album, shot a couple videos and split up. Soopafly stayed with his big homie Snoop, Bad Lucc left and affiliated himself later on with Diamond Lane Music Group and Damani went on with his solo mission, releasing an album exclusively in Japan called “On Vacation From Vacation”.

After that … nothing. Damani was tired and felt empty. Tired to rap about nonsense. How much can you talk about money and – excuse the language – pussy. He was tired to keep looking over his shoulder just because of the crowd that attaches to the kind of music he was making. He just wanted to breath freely and have fun, so he went on to a journey trying to find his sound. Trying to find him self. It was not easy for him to find the right production, but after all, he created “Everybody C’mon”. He was excited. The song was a new direction, a new type of sound for him. The follow up song was produced by Hit-Boy. Both songs had videos done. “Everybody C’mon” dropped April 17th in 2012 … and did absolutely nothing. People that heard the song and saw the video couldn’t believe it, but it was hard to get people to push the play button. The extremely dope follow up track and video never saw the light of the day and Damani stepped away from the microphone. He didn’t want to go back to the rap he used to do, and if nobody wants to hear him, he rather turns his back to it, thinking about pursuing a different career on the business side of the NBA or something. He went on another search, traveled the world a little more, and let the music rest.

In 2013 I received a phone call from Damani. He found it. He found his sound. He found Warryn “Baby Dub” Campbell, which is also listed as one of the executive producer on the album. Damani Nkosi was born.

The first song I ever heard was an unmixed and unmastered version of Free Dumb (Chains Off) and the idea was to title the album “When I Took My Chains Off”, the next song I heard was Ethiopia, he played it to me over the phone. I wasn’t physically there when the album was formed but I always got bits and pieces in my email with new stuff, and it all sounded like timeless music, with a great appeal of Jazz to it.

On July 7th 2013 I received an email with a download link to one audio file with the title “Damani Nkosi Album MASTER”. It was finally done, and the Thoughtful King album was born. Shortly after, Damani came to Hamburg, Germany. He had this vision of the album cover. He wanted a picture of himself walking down the Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic. Damani, a friend of mine by the name of Said Voerg and myself jumped in my car and got on the Autobahn on a 7-hour trip, from Hamburg to Prague. Half the way, not even crossing the borders, the engine blew up on the middle of the autobahn. The ADAC (similar to the American AAA) towed us to the next town. We got a rental car, and kept on driving towards our destination.


We got to Prague pretty late, checked in the hotel, tried to find some food (that I totally fucked up, because I thought I saw a dope place on google maps) and looked at the location. Around midnight we went to sleep and got back up at 4 am to shoot the album cover for ‘Thoughtful King’. After that we drove around the city a little more, got some food (I finally found the place from the day before and it was dope!) and got back on the road … back to Hamburg.




In Hamburg we jumped on a plane and flew to Zurich, Switzerland, to shoot parts of “On My Way To Inglewood” and also a 16 bars promo video … after a couple of hours we were back on a plane to Paris, France. In Paris we linked up with Seendanew, an old friend of Damani. He helped us around town and we shot “Now That’s Love” in the next 3 days.





Back in Hamburg, we got together with two friends of mine that are graffiti artist and shot the video to “Free Dumb (Chains Off)”. A Damani Nkosi mural was painted on a wall in Hamburg. The next night we shot most parts of “On My Way To Inglewood” and also “A Man”. In between we shot press photos and other stuff. We were in full motion to make Damani Nkosis “Thoughtful King” the masterpiece that it is.

Once Damani got back to the states, on this end of the world editing started, while Damani put together a plan. A lot of people from the music industry heard the album. Deals were offered, mayor artists gave compliments, record executives gave compliments, the word was good on all sides. It is a sound that was so long missed in Hip Hop. That was untouched in Hip Hop for such a long time. A great mix between Jazz and Storytelling in its purest form. A Tribe Called Quest would have loved to make such an album.

Today, Damani Nkosi “Thoughtful King” has been out for about 3 weeks. Most of the videos are released. It’s still hard to get people to push the play button and listen to it. Once they have done it, most of them love it. Thanks to great support from mayor artists (such as Musiq Soulchild, Robert Glasper, Problem, Xzibit), athletes (Kevin Garnett) and press (L.A. Weekly, Red Bull, HipHopDX, …), the word got around. Right now we are receiving great reviews from media pages. They love the sound and the whole art around it.

It is still tough to present the album to the masses, especially when you create a certain sound that fit in every age but not in every lane. That makes it hard to find the right group of people to attach to. It’s a slow grind, and – to put it in the words of Talib Kweli – a beautiful struggle, because at the end, good music will always win.

I won’t say that “Thoughtful King” will sell millions of units, maybe at some point it will or it will just go unnoticed in the masses of releases, but it feels right. It gives the people that listen to it a good vibe and let them enjoy it. And that’s what it is about at the end of the day … its not about the money (of course you have to generate a certain amount to cover the costs and eat), but with this album, it was more about the art, the feel, and the people that sit on the other side of the speaker or of the other side of the stage, to give them something positive.

*Photo 2, 3, 4 & 5 are taken by Said Voerg.



  1. boy meets world » BOY MEETS WORLD x DAMANI NKOSI
    13. January 2015 at 20:41

    […] described how I met Damani Nkosi a while ago in my post ‘My Story To A Thoughtful King‘. This time Damani took some time to sit down and speak about how he first met me, what it is […]

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