Chocolate Genius, known alternately as Chocolate Genius Inc., is the brainchild of Marc Anthony Thompson, an eclectic singer and songwriter whose work has encompassed contemporary forms of R&B, jazz, folk, and rock. Thompson was born in Panama, raised in California, and later moved to New York, where he became involved in the downtown avant-garde scene. When his early solo career, which included the Warner-distributed albums Marc Anthony Thompson (1984) and Watts & Paris (1989), hit a dead end, Thompson made that downtown scene his focal point, most notably recording with guitarist Marc Ribot in the mid-'90s.
Thompson conceived Chocolate Genius partly as a joke — the alias of a fictional, self-important recluse — but it soon turned into a full-fledged recording project. Two proper Chocolate Genius albums, Black Music (1998) and Godmusic (2001), were released on the Richard Branson-founded V2 label. The loose, free-floating collective of instrumentalists who supported Thompson included Ribot, Jane Scarpantoni, John Medeski, Chris Wood, Chris Whitley, and Vernon Reid, among others. Thompson and his associates then went by Chocolate Genius Inc. for Black Yankee Rock (2005), Swansongs (2010), and Truth vs. Beauty (2016), predominantly low-key and atmospheric works for smaller labels. Thompson's activity between releases included studio work with Lizz Wright and touring as a member of Bruce Springsteen's Seeger Sessions Band. ~ Steve Huey & Andy Kellman