Photo: Josefina Santos

The LEVEL Man at 40

Desus Nice Proved You Don’t Have to Sellout to Sell Out

Daniel Baker developed his gifts. Desus Nice gave them to the world. Now it’s time to expand.


Update 6/7/22: Level has a new home. You can read this article and other new articles by visiting

When your moniker is Desus Nice, you can’t afford to be mediocre. You’ve got to be quicker, wittier, more aware of and conversant with the surrounding world. You’ve got to be able to distill information, to disseminate your born knowledge to those not as learned or perceptive. You have to speak the language of your audience while raising their bar. A high-wattage smile doesn’t hurt either.

These are the attributes Daniel “Desus Nice” Baker had to accrue in order to make a living being himself. Now, three months away from entering his forties, the Bronx ambassador stands today as one of the most important Black voices of our culture.

Daniel was always supposed to be Desus Nice. He was bred to have a valued voice; to be an intellectual and cultural analyst. Critical thinking was ingrained in him. As was the hustle: His Jamaican parents came to America, like most immigrants, to squeeze more out of life for themselves and their children. The lion’s share of…



Bonsu Thompson
Writer for

Bonsu Thompson is a writer, producer, Brooklynite and 2019 Sundance Screenwriters Lab fellow.