California native Damani Nkosi is bringing a different attitude to rap with the release of his album Thoughtful King this week. As the title suggests, he's put a lot of thought into his music, creating a project with a more philosophical bent than your typical rap record. BFTV had the chance to chat with Damani while he was making Thoughtful King, and here's what he had to say about the album and his process.
"What's important to me is quality over quantity. What's important to me is lyrics and the music having a marriage together, and just making sense," he explained. "What makes me stand out in my opinion is the fact that I write from a place that's very personal to me. If I'm sharing personal experiences, it's automatically going to be unique because we all have different experiences. And I do not really compromise my content for money. I write music for a purpose."
"I really, really love the fact that the emotion of the music matches the words. I think when you do that you automatically tap into the soul," Damani continued, discussing his points of pride with the album. "I love the instrumentation. I love the fact that there's no song that repeats itself. It makes for a great listening experience. The next song could be a completely different emotion, a completely different book. And I love the way it flows; it flows like a real story."
He's creating a story not just with music, but with images as well. The video for the album's first single, "Now That's Love," was shot on location in - where else? - Paris. What was it like to shoot in the world's most romantic city? "The experience was incredible," he told us. "It being the city of Love, I just felt like it was perfect.
"How I wanted to come across [in the video], it wasn't about me but the example...He's just going on a regular date," he added. "I just wanted to show just your average girl. And I wanted to present myself as just an average guy." You can check out the finished product with this article.
Thoughtful King also stands as an important benchmark in Damani's career; it's making a strong statement showing us what he believes in. He's presenting not just the music, but himself as an individual. "I've been rapping for over ten years and with this album, the only reason I did this album was to give my testimony of my life and help people," he told us. "If I was doing this for money, I would make a way different type of rap song. What I'm making is not necessarily the greatest selling music.
"The success for me in this is to have somebody come up to me. If people are moved, if I can move the culture in any kind of way into a more positive light, that's complete success for me," he continued. "Because I've had the other stuff. And all you've got really is money. But to actually help somebody through something through a song, through your perseverance, it's very flattering and that is what success is to me."
"I just want to reiterate the fact that I have a choice in what kind of music I do and I'm aware of the benefits versus one over the other," Damani reflected. "This is a special project. My heart and soul is in this project. And I'm sure anybody listens to it they can hear that. But I just want to say that. It wasn't a vanity project. It was just strictly about my testimony." Now that he's let us into his heart, hopefully audiences will let his music into theirs.