GET TO KNOW: Zangba

Zangba music

Zangba Thomson is a Liberian-American award-winning author, Hip Hop Film Festival nominated screenwriter, conscious emcee, and Editor-in-Chief at Bong Mines Entertainment Blog. He was born in Bong Mines, a small mining community located in Bong County, Liberia, West Africa. His father named him after a paramount-war chief from the Bassa African tribe. The name ‘Zangba’ means the heart of the soul.

At the tender age of 8, Zangba and his older sister left Liberia and migrated to Jamaica, a rough and tough neighborhood in Jamaica Queens, NY, a block from the famous Coliseum Mall. Zangba and his sister lived with their mother in a studio apartment, next door to the legendary Shirt Kings, known for airbrushing custom designs on t-shirts and sweaters for artists such as LL Cool J, Jam Master Jay, Audio Two, and Just Ice to name a few.

At that time, video games were in, and Zangba had almost every in-style video game consoles such as Nintendo, Atari, ColecoVision, and Sega Genesis. But for this true video-game junkie, Zangba played a lot of arcade games on upright video game machines inside the 165th street bus terminal. One day, after playing Ghosts ‘n Goblins, Zangba exited the terminal and unexpectedly walked into LL Cool J’s video shoot. A few feet away, he saw LL Cool J with his arms around two female models.

That up close and personal view, much closer than what Yo’ MTV Raps could have shown him, left such an everlasting impression on Zangba’s mind. But what really solidified the art form in Zangba’s heart was when he saw Boogie Down Productions’ “My Philosophy” music video. Immediately, KRS-One became the first emcee that Zangba admired because Kris’ word play, his philosophy, and raps about Africa hit home, and Zangba began writing his own lyrics.

Zangba adjusted well to his new concrete environment, and became good friends with juveniles from South-side Jamaica, Queens. One comrade in particular, Sal Brown, showed Zangba the ropes of how things worked in the streets, and Zangba abided by these rules. Years later, the streets gave Zangba the nickname– Bam Stays Jiggie, which eventually got reduced to Bam Jiggie. With a fresh street moniker under his belt, Zangba formed a rap group with his good friends, Guerilla Maine and Boo Harv, and their first recorded song ended up on Cutmaster C’s “Back To School” mixtape.

Progress was made, but unfortunately, Zangba’s friend Sal got murdered in cold blood. And Zangba felt lost, eventually, he spiraled out of control. By the grace of the Creator, he regained his sanity and enrolled at York College, the learning institution where he studied Journalism and Creative Writing under the watchful tutelage of Professor Glenn Lewis.

During that time, Zangba met Large Professor, and ended up recording a demo in Large’s basement. Large took a special liking to Zangba’s lyrical ability, and it showed. He took the young wordsmith to a professional studio to record a verse on “Straight Rhymes”, a song Large wanted to use on his “First Class” album, featuring Nas, Busta Rhymes, and Q-Tip. The song came out dope, but unfortunately, it didn’t make the cut. Zangba felt down, knowing a placement like that would’ve put him in the hip-hop spotlight. But he didn’t give up.

Zangba’s friend, Kentele (Scar Blood), sent him a kite from Southport Correctional Facility, and days later, Zangba and Guerrilla Maine had a pivotal meeting with rap mogul 50 Cent, in front of 50’s grandmother’s house in Queens. The gathering took place inside Zangba’s mother’s white station wagon, where 50, seated in the backseat, listened to Zangba’s and Maines’s Transformers song, and minutes afterwards, 50 dropped a songwriting jewel and rapped 16 bars of straight fire. But nothing materialized out of that meeting, and several months later, 50’s infamous shooting occurred.

Zangba rap artist and author

Zangba kept it moving. He recorded Three Black Boys at Hillie Hill’s Straight Live Studio. People who heard the song were asking Zangba, “Why did the boys do the robbery?” To answer their question, Zangba adapted the song into a short story, entitled, Three Black Boys: The Authorized Version, which sold over 1,600 copies in the streets of Harlem during its first week run.

In 2012, Zangba teamed up with Jean Alerte, and they co-wrote Do Right Do Good, a practical guidebook towards vision fulfillment, which was endorsed by Russell Simmons and Dr. Dennis Kimbro.

In 2015, Zangba and Alerte, along with 6-other authors, released the urban, best-selling relationship guidebook Single Man, Married Man, which won the ‘2015 New Book Award’, and received major media attention from FOX 5, NBC, Today, Fox & Friends, Kathy Lee & Hoda, Arise 360, Shade 45: Sway in the Morning, ABC, Daily Mail (UK), Vibe Magazine, Centric TV, HOT 97, Essence Magazine, and The Tom Joyner Morning Show.

In 2016, Zangba released Take a Look… There’s Money All Around You!, a prosperity, life-changing guidebook, which highlights the secret ingredients needed to become a prosperous moneymaking machine. And later that month, he released Hip-Hop, Soul, and R&B, a lovable, 10-track debut album that’s taking music lovers on a joyful journey down lover’s lane, where
true love is the theme and being in love is the name of the game.

On July 31, 2016, at the National Black Theatre in Harlem, New York, Zangba received the Bai T. Moore Literary Award during a ceremony commemorating the 169th Anniversary of Liberian Independence. That night, Zangba also received several citations from Congressman Charles Rangel, Bill de Blasio (Mayor of New York), Ruben Diaz Jr. (Bronx Borough President), Edward P. Mangano (Nassau County Executive), and Gale A. Brewer (Manhattan Borough President) for his literary achievements and volunteering assistance to urban communities.

On Dec. 20, 2016, Zangba won a ‘Public Choice Remix Award for his single ‘I Need You (feat. Maskerade)’, in B-Side Project’s 2016 remix competition, in association with Prism Sound. The awards ceremony took place in London at Metropolis Studios.

Recently, the Hip Hop Film Festival NYC nominated Zangba Thomson’s “Three Black Boys” screenplay for their screenwriters’ category. The festival will be held in NYC for four straight days, from August 3-6.

I felt great when I heard that,” said Thomson, after receiving news that his screenplay had been selected. “The Hip Hop Film Festival is monumental, and I’m honored to be a nominee. Three Black Boys started as a hip-hop song, and during its decade-long existence, it has evolved into a 100-page street mixbook (an author’s version of a rapper’s mixtape), then, it transformed into a 350-page, full length novel, and now a Hip Hop Film Festival nominated screenplay. I wonder "what’s next?”

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