2 Minutes With … Bonsu Thompson, Writer, Director, Producer and Cultural Critic

On authentic language and the innovation behind hip-hop's live shows

Bonsu is a writer, director, producer and cultural critic. As a filmmaker, he has penned features and shorts across the narrative and documentary spectrum. Such efforts include Story Ave (2023) and Can't Stop Won't Stop: A Bad Boy Story (2017). For television, Bonsu wrote and directed the 2023 series Iconic Records: Life After Death, which documents the last 18 months of Notorious B.I.G. 

He has also served as editor-in-chief of The Source, senior writer at SLAM and music editor for XXL. Bonsu co-hosts the podcast HARD 2 EARN, which reviews current albums and classic works.

His brand portfolio includes Nike, Hennessy, Apple, Warner Music and Beats By Dre.

We spent two minutes with Bonsu to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations and recent work he's admired.

Bonsu, tell us …

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

Born and raised in Brooklyn. Still here. 

Your earliest musical memory.

Kiss FM and WBLS constantly playing in our basement apartment. In the '80, those two radio stations were where NYC got their R&B and early hip-hop.

Your favorite bands/musicians today.

The Roots (Black Thought is in my Top 5), Anderson Paak, Soul Science Lab, Terrace Martin, Kendrick Lamar. Too many to name.

One of your favorite projects you've ever worked on.

I wrote and directed an eight-episode visual podcast for WMG and the Notorious B.I.G. estate on the last 18 months of Biggie's life: Iconic Records: Life After Death. It was a dream project that I never dreamt. B.I.G. is not only my all-time favorite rapper, but one of the most visual writers.

A recent project you're proud of.

My first feature film as a screenwriter, Story Ave, hit NYC theaters on Sept. 29, and select theaters nationwide on Oct. 6. The New York Times listed it as one of the most anticipated films of this fall. 

One thing about how the music world is evolving that you're excited about.

More than ever, hip-hop artists are putting innovative thinking and design behind their live shows. The light shows go beyond a night with Gaga or Beyonce

Someone else's work, in music or beyond, that you admired lately.

I finally finished the Tupac/Afeni Shakur documentary series Dear Mama. I just love the way Allen Hughes approaches cinema with a music focus. Every episode played like a mixtape.

An artist you admire outside the world of music.

My friends possess some of the most creative minds in the world. From Michael and Nicole Nichols of @auntsetuncles to @mobrowne's pen to @pelnyc's illustrations to @brooklynsmoon's hART pieces. Osmosis has much to do with my creative growth.

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.

Rick Rubin's book The Creative Act is my favorite of the year; Beef (Netflix) had the best storytelling; Trymaine Lee's Into America always comes bearing fruit. 

Someone worth following in social media.

Tanyka Renee. Every post is a 10 from visuals to messaging. Artemus Gordon is runner-up.

Your main strength as a marketer/creative.

Authentic language. I know the feeling a statement is supposed to deliver when it lands. It's about crafting language that evokes customized emotion. That can only be done organically.

Your biggest weakness.


Something people would find surprising about you.

My first language was Twi. Dad took 2-year-old me to Accra to live for a year.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in the music business.

Pretty much what I'm doing now: writing for film, television and culture.

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

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