Published Jun 03, 2014The name Damani Nkosi may be new to many, but the California MC has already logged a number of years in the rap game touring with Snoop Dogg as a member of Dubb Union and laying down countless rhymes about being a player. Evidently, Nkosi's travels around the world have prompted much reflection, and weary of this lifestyle, he has transformed into a reflective and introspective MC with an affinity for jazzy, neo-soul tinged production on Thoughtful King. However, unlike Snoop's dubious reawakening into Snoop Lion on Reincarnated, Thoughtful King — a literal translation of Nkosi's name — is a convincing affair.
With lyrics like "Without a dollar to my name/ My wealth's sustained/ In grace my road is paved" on the organ-adorned "Rich," Nkosi's new approach to life is underlined. His raspy flow also meshes nicely with the sax-laced "On My Way to Inglewood" and the head-nodding ode to devotion "Now That's Love," featuring Musiq Soulchild and famed jazz pianist Robert Glasper. Nkosi tends not to preach, instead pointing out the deficiencies and weaknesses of his past behaviour. On "FreeDumb (Chains Off)" he infers his previous love of gaudy jewellery was indicative of mental slavery, and "Good Night" is a frowning indictment of his past treatment of women. A thematic and sonically consistent affair, Thoughtful King works because Nkosi rejects notions of regal superiority and instead embraces human fallibility. (Independent)