Born in 1978 in Minneapolis, MN, Dana Willey was not supposed to happen. His mother was unable to have kids; while his father was always at the wrong place at the wrong time, almost being killed numerous times, the last time surviving death by just a length of a blade. He somehow got right and cleaned up his life. His mom prayed and prayed to have a child and after years and years of doctors telling her there isn’t a chance and that she should just give up; finally her prayers were answered, she was going to have her lifelong dream of being a mother.
Growing up in the diverse neighborhoods of North Minneapolis, it didn’t take long for Dana to follow in his fathers footsteps by getting into trouble while he was young. Running with gangs and making his mark within the gang by tagging the area, stealing car stereos, and performing freestyle raps at local house-parties; one occasion even got the police involved. After making violent threats on the mic about the campus police, the MPD got involved and their force was out to nab Dana and his friends, and a few got arrested. Think rapping “Fuck the Police” in front of the face of a Los Angeles policeman, which is what pretty much happened that night in Dinkytown. In a strange way he found his calling that night, but just like his father, he also found something else, as it seemed like a dark cloud was also following him.
Some years later, Dana was writing raps and messing around with production and chose the name, KNONAM (pronounced No Name), based on his survival of almost not existing at all. Working full-time at a local bar, a chance meeting with an old high school classmate at a mall helped Dana get his career going. That old friend was Brother Ali. They hooked up right away and Brother Ali introduced Dana to Eyedea, and all 3 of them got to work. Brother Ali created all the beats, Eyedea did the recording and mixing, and all 3 shared production duties. The album made was, “ I Swear to Drunk I’m Not God.” The first single, “Hold Like a Man,” featured Brother Ali and was featured on RSE Radio and KMOJ. The second single, “Ride,” was also an indie hit with a hilarious intro by Eyedea which caught the ears of many E&A fans at the height of their popularity. Knonam was invited to join Ali on the road for the Midwest wing of Atmosphere's “God Loves Ugly Tour” where he hung out with the band, played roadie, and got his dues card punched. The last night of the tour, Slug invited Knonam to join him on stage at the end of the night, but the club shut the show down early and Knonam never got to hit the stage. The black cloud followed him on the road.
After a semi-successful debut release and getting press from outlets such as City Pages, Industry Minnezine, DUNation.com, The Pulse and others, it was time to get back into the studio with Eyedea. Knonam, inspired by the 80’s culture he grew up in, sampled from his favorite tracks from the period and used them as inspiration and as a canvas for his new record. But from the onset of the first makings of the album, something was holding it back from being made; the black cloud was working full force.
In the time of this record being made, one thing after another was hitting hard. A dysfunctional relationship and break-up, a fire at his work place forced him out of his job and onto EBT and Unemployment Assistance, which caused him to eventually lose his apartment. As well as getting into some trouble with the police after a night of hard drinking and partying, loosing his license and spending a short stint in jail; but worst of all the suicide of his close friend Skoops, who also appears on the new record. The black cloud was winning. But with the help and support of family, close friends, and some help from above, Knonam finished the record. You can hear on this new record all the points of his life over the last few years. The beginning of the record is life, and where there is life, death is always a step away, which results in the ending of the album. God’s fingerprints are embedded in this album. And the black cloud continues to follow…