Zangba Emmanuel Dwekla Thomson Biography
Zangba Emmanuel Dwekla Thomson (pron.: /zangː’bah/) was born within the Grebo African tribe during the “From Mat to Mattress/Americo-Liberian” rulership era of William Richard Tolbert Jr., in an iron ore mining community called “Bong Mines,” located in Bong County, Liberia, West Africa.
Zangba’s father, John Thomson, named Zangba after a paramount chief from the Bassa African tribe, whose name means “all powerful and ruler of all.” While growing up, Zangba showed great signs of his namesake’s brave nature, and was viewed as a very happy, calm, and peaceful child.
His childhood years were filled with great adventures, explorations through unchartered territories, scientific experiments, bird hunting, fishing, swimming, taking bike rides down unpaved roads-reminiscent of the steepest streets in San Francisco, and climbing a huge oak tree to hangout in his red tree house.
“I had a great and imaginative childhood,” says Zangba. “My mother was making a way for us in America, so my older sister, Wade (pron.: /wahː’day/), and I lived with our grandparents in a home, surrounded by a lot of land, and an uncountable amount of banana and plum trees to pick fresh fruits from.
I came from a very prominent political family that produced great men and women in my native country: My grandfather was a lawyer and a legislator in the government, and my father graduated from the University of Manheim, West Germany in the 1960s, became an economist and worked as Housing Supervisor for Bong Mining Company.”
Being offsprings of Nubians from Ancient Kemet, and descendants of freed Negro slaves and missionaries from the Baltimore, Maryland area, Zangba and Wade left their native land of Liberia, when Zangba was 8 years old, a few years prior to the Liberian Civil War.
Zangba and Wade landed safely at JFK International Airport in New York, during one of the coldest winters ever. While walking through the airport terminal, Zangba learned his first life lesson… riding an escalator. “I had no clue on how to get on the escalator,” says Zangba, “but after watching other passengers get on and off, I finally got the idea and understood what life was all about, and that is-you watch and you learn.”
Zangba and Wade moved into their mother’s studio apartment, located in a building across the street from the 165th street Bus Terminal, and a short block away from the Coliseum Mall. Everything looked foreign, but gradually Zangba’s habit of watching and learning helped him adapt to his new concrete habitat, and like a sponge, he soaked up the raw essence of life in Jamaica-Queens. It was akin to leaving Africa and entering into the concrete jungle of New York.
But adjusting and becoming acclimated to this new environment, especially fitting in with his peers at school would be a bit more challenging. During his first day as a 4th grader at elementary school P.S. 86, Zangba’s courage was tested.
“I didn’t know anyone so I sat by myself in the lunchroom,” says Zangba. “Then out of nowhere, an oversized kid asked me if I was going to eat my lunch? I replied yes because I was hungry, but still I offered to share my food with him because he looked hungrier.”
Salidean Brown, Zangba’s schoolmate, stepped to the bully and said, “Leave him alone!” Sal knew Zangba was “green” to the streets, so he explained to Zangba that the bully was trying to take his lunch. Zangba learned another valuable life lesson; and he and Sal became very close friends. Years later, during their junior-high school years at P.S. 217, Sal took Zangba around his neighborhood for the first time.
“Sal brought me around to meet his crew,” says Zangba, “and the next thing I know, I’m in the middle of the streets, squared up in a one-on-one fistfight against a kid I didn’t even know. I balled up my fist, as tight as I could, and threw a hard right hook to the kid’s rib cage. Surprisingly, the kid tumbled to the ground in agony, and the fight was over before it started.”
Immediately, Sal’s inner circle embraced Zangba, and introduced him to the underworld of Southside Jamaica-Queens. Being that Zangba had quick hands, and was always up-to-date with his clothing, the streets nicknamed him Bam Jigge.
Around that time, the Legendary Shirt Kings, who were airbrushing custom designs on t-shirts and sweaters for the likes of LL Cool J, Jam Master Jay, Audio Two, and Just Ice to name a few of their A-list clients, moved into the apartment next door to Zangba and his family, and they (Nike, Kasheem, and Dave) were very influential in introducing the fashion side of the Hip-Hop culture to Zangba.
Video games were in, and at home Zangba had mostly every in-style video game console from Nintendo, Atari, Coleco-Vision, to Sega Genesis, but for the true video game junkies, playing arcade games on an upright video game machine was the in-thing to do.
“I used to play a lot of video games in the pizza shop, located inside the bus terminal,” says Zangba, “and I remember one day, after running out of a bankroll of quarters, I become very upset because I didn't beat the Ghosts n' Goblins game I was playing. I walked out of the bus terminal, and standing right in front of me, with his arms around two female models, was LL Cool J, shining like the sun at high noon. He was shooting a scene for his music video.”
Zangba’s up close and personal view of LL Cool J, a closer view than what Yo’ MTV Raps could have shown him, left such an everlasting impression on Zangba’s mind that he took a special liking to the emceeing aspect of Hip Hop. That night, he traveled with Sal and G-Money to the Grey Door, a ghetto spot in 40 Projects, and witnessed Cory D, a street legend, emceeing live on stage, and later that weekend, Zangba attended his first park jam at Baisley Park.
At that time, Zangba's musical influences were Michael Jackson, because Michael made Zangba a believer that dreams, through hard work and dedication, can become reality. The entire Motown era, and the 70s and 80s music eras also inspired Zangba and introduced him to jazz, soul, and pop. But hip hop solidified itself in Zangba's heart, when Zangba saw Boogie Down Productions' My Philosophy music video on Video Music Box. Immediately, KRS-ONE's word play, his philosophy, and his raps about Africa hit home, and soon Zangba began writing his own rhymes on paper.
KRS ONE brought out the raw emcee in Zangba, and then Nasty Nas came, and totally blew Zangba's mind with Illmatic. Nas flow, his delivery, and word play inspired Zangba to add God-body lyricism to his philosophical outlook as an emcee. Then another hip-hop icon by the name of Tupac Shakur, overwhelmed Zangba with realism, black empowerment, and at that time, Zangba was thugging in the streets, so he overstood Tupac's Thug-Life mentality. Tupac's music inspired Zangba to add passion and real-life experiences into his music, and not too long afterwards, Jay-Z came out with Blueprint. Jay Z's music, known for its dope conversations and clever lyricism, was instrumental in guiding Zangba to become a well-rounded recording artist.
At Public Enemy Recording Studios in Hempstead, Long Island, Zangba recorded his first song, and shortly after that, he joined forces with his friends, Guerilla Maine and Boo Harv, and together they became known as Due’ Face. Then early one morning, Zangba received a phone call, and G Money told him that Sal was dead, murdered on the cold streets of Queens, New York. Immediately, Zangba felt lifeless, as if the Angel of Death had extracted his soul from his body, and he collapsed mentally.
Months after Sal’s cremation, Zangba felt depressed, and incomplete because he missed the company of his best friend. Sal had introduced Zangba to everything street-related, and now he was no longer around to guide Zangba through the “valley of the shadow of death.” So little by little, the little light that had once shone in Zangba’s world became strangely dim, and after a while, it turned completely dark.
“I remember going on a losing streak for years,” says Zangba, reminiscing about the most difficult time in his life. “At the time, I lost everything because I didn’t care anymore. Due’ Face never reached its full potential; my sister, by this time who had opted to return to our native home, was stuck in the Liberian Civil War; most of my close friends were incarcerated; a few were dead; and I felt like a King on the chessboard, with only a few pawns left, because everyone close to me (in one way or the other), were being taken away. I spiraled out of control and even got arrested a few times.”
But Joyce, Zangba’s loving mother, was faithful and there in the trenches with her son during his darkest hours, and because of her continuous love, prayers, and support over time, Zangba became inspired all over again. Joyce motivated Zangba to take Journalism/Creative Writing at York College, and Zangba excelled as a pupil under the watchful tutelage of Professor Glenn Lewis.
One day, while visiting a close friend, Zangba met Large Professor, a legendary Hip Hop producer and emcee, coming out of his driveway. Large took a special liking to Zangba’s lyrical ability, and ended up giving him a few beats to rap to. A few days later, Zangba handed Large a dub plate of one of the songs he recorded over Large’s beat called, "Scared To Run up On Me," and Large was impressed.
Immediately, Large took the young lyricist under his wing, and Zangba recorded his demo in Large's basement. A short while later, Large brought Zangba to the studio to record a verse on “Straight Rhymes,” a song that Large wanted to use on his “First Class” album. Although Zangba’s verse was dope, “Straight Rhymes” didn’t make the album cut, and Zangba found himself right back where he started-between a rock and a hard place.
By the grace of the Most High The Highest Yahuwah, Zangba kept his head up, and shortly afterwards he recorded “Three Black Boys,” a song about three friends who put their lives on the line to rescue a victim plagued with the deadly “Black Fever” disease. The boys’ story was so interesting that people were asking Zangba, "Why did the boys commit the robbery?" To answer their intriguing questions, Zangba unintentionally became an author when he adapted the song into the book, "Three Black Boys: Tomorrow After Supper."
Zangba’s company, “Bong Mines Entertainment LLC,” was now officially in business, and Zangba went on to co-write “Do Right Do Good,” a self-help guidebook towards vision fulfillment and entrepreneurship, with Marketing Guru Jean Alerte; and shortly afterwards, "Do Right Do Good" was endorsed by American Business Magnate-Russell Simmons and Dr. Dennis Kimbro (best-seller author of Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice).
Zangba has now become a global trendsetter, and is currently New York’s Life Coach Examiner at Examiner.com, a place where he contributes motivational and evergreen subject matter articles. There is no limit to what Zangba will accomplish in the future, and if he continues his virtuous habit of always watching and learning, then certainly greatness, health, and wealth will seal his final destiny in triumph.