Christopher Chambers AKA Jimi D, is the nephew of the legendary Reggae artist Don Carlos of the ever-popular Black Uhruru group.
As a child, his uncle, the Legendary Reggae Artist, Don Carlos would always make him sing “Dancing on the ceiling” by Lionel Richie. Even though he was annoyed with that single request, his mannerly training, would not allow him to complain. Instead, he willingly complied with his uncle’s wishes, not knowing his uncle was secretly exploring his artistic abilities.
Jimi D has proved his worth by sharing the stage with well-known artists such as Freddie McGregor, Eeka Mouse, Andrew Tosh, Shaddon Tucker and his mentor/uncle Don Carlos. After years of singing background and gaining a deeper respect for the music industry, the opportune time has presented itself to launch his long awaited visionary, after ten years from his first single entitled “Rastafari”.
From the Background to the ForeFront: Welcome Jimi D!! Come Mek wi Chat!
1. Mi haffi ask, so how yu come by the name ‘Jimi D’? (LoL)
It was a pet name given to me as a child. The ‘D’ is for ‘Don’, which is my uncle’s name-Don Carlos.
2. Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Waterhouse, Kingston. My family’s roots are in Waterhouse, but I spent most of my childhood in Portmore. I moved to Portmore in the early 1980’s.
3. Tell us a little about your family.
I am the only child for my mother. I have two half sisters and two half brothers. My mom lives in Florida.
4. When (and where in the US) did you migrate?
I migrated in my early teen years. I was previously living in New York for approximately 10 years. I currently reside in Atlanta Georgia.
5. So tell us a little about your musical journey. At what age did you start singing?
When I was 14 years old, I began to seriously pursue a career in music. I was mostly into R & B at that time though.
6. Who was your biggest influence into a reggae music career?
My uncle Don Carlos. He encouraged me to shift to reggae music. I grew up around reggae music and people in that industry, but I had preferred the R & B sound back then, as I grew up with R&B music in New York. I got deeper into reggae music around the age of 20 or so.
7. At what age did you record your first album?
At the age of 18. I had a contract with HCNF in New York. This was the record company that worked with the famous musician ‘Shaggy’. I even met some of his producers. Anyways, HCNF was focused on having me do ‘Pop’ music, but it did not work out. This was approximately 10 years ago.
8. Was there a time when you did NOT pursue a music career?
Yes. After the HCNF disappointed outcome of my music, I got out of the musical industry and I was not interested in music anymore. Also, at that time, I wanted to focus on a career that could bring in some steady income, as I now had a son. I thought medicine was my true passion and I was pursuing a career in medicine. I did not want to be a doctor. I thought a career as a Physician Assistant would be fine, as it was close enough to a doctor’s status. I loved singing and still loved music, and so I used to offer up my singing talent for free.
9. What happened to bring about the shift in your passion to music once again?
911 happened. I was not involved in music around that time. While working in the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) field, the whole idea of ‘saving lives’ appealed to me. I found that I enjoyed saving lives, literally. I was working as a paramedic and was on the Brooklyn Bridge when the planes flew into the Towers. I literally watched the whole thing happened. Man, it was a traumatic experience. It felt like it was the ‘end of the world’. 911 gave me another outlook on life and made me seek out what is truly my passion. I began to ask myself ‘what can I give back?’, and I realize that I am the happiest person when I am involved in music. I also realized that music can ‘save lives’, so I went back to my true passion-music. However, I was initially going to return as a music producer of my songs, instead of me being the one singing. But that was not the case.
10. If we were to check your I-Pod right now, what type of music would we find?
A wide variety. I enjoy all kinds of music. But to name a few, you will find: old school R &B with people like Earth Wind and Fire, Mint Condition; then there’s Big Band music, old school reggae with singers like Beres Hammond, Steel Pulse; then there are some gospel music, Jazz and some Hip Hop music. I can’t pinpoint one favorite type of music that I enjoy. I enjoy them all.
11. Do you have an album coming out soon?
Yes. I am in the process of recording my 2nd album and I anticipate it will be released in Summer 2010, hopefully.
12. What can we look for on this album?
There is a variety of styles. The title of this new album is ‘Multiple Personality Disorder’ (MPD). This album is a journey of who I am as an individual. It shows the various sides of who I am as a person. It is a compilation of my diverse styles. When music producers find out you are Jamaican, they automatically want to produce reggae, and not just reggae, but hard core reggae. But I am bringing back the old sounds of reggae from times past. It is not ‘new’ reggae sounds, but it sounds new.
13. What type of unique musical sound does your album possess?
It’s a mixture of Reggae/Caribbean/R &B sounds.
14. Do you have a message in your album to its listeners?
My message is a message of hope; it is to ‘save lives’. I hope that this album will also teach the cultural roots of my Jamaican heritage, as well as the passion in my music will ‘save lives’. I feel I am responsible for my fellow sister and brother, so I am accountable for what I sing and the words my listeners are listening to. I want them to have hope from my songs. We are responsible to each other. I want the listeners to relate to my journey and the things that I have been through. I went through depression during my teen and early adult years, and I had to survive it all. Music played an instrumental part of my survival development. I want my listeners to be encouraged and comforted as other music albums had been there for me when I was going through my rough times. I want my album to be that way for people.
15. Did you write all of the songs on the album, and can you name a couple song titles?
Yes, I wrote all the songs. To name a few song titles: Sunshine, Call on Me, Joy, ‘Mi did deh dere’, remake of Mama Used to Say, Grind Hard, Mama (dedicated to my mother) and Gangster Love.
16. Which one is your favorite?
My favorite song is called YOU!
17. Aside from your uncle Don Carlos, who has been an influence for you in reggae music?
Third World, Freddie McGregor, Sanchez, Ritchie Stevens, Wayne Wonder, Bob Marley (of course) and Jimmie Cliff. Jimmie Cliff got me to accept my pet name Jimi D (laugh).
18. Do you think reggae artists of today are portraying the core Jamaican values in their music?
I am proud of our Jamaican values, as they are not centered on material things. However, those values are not being reflected in Jamaican music anymore. There is no real creativity, and no uplifting of one’s spirit, and there is a lack of respect for women. But to be fair, it’s not just reggae that has been affected; other music genres such as Hip Hop and R&B have been tainted also.
19. Where do you see yourself as a musician in the next 5 years?
At the top of the charts. I have never been at the top of anything, so this would really be something.
20. Favorite Jamaican food?
Curry Chicken back, ackee and saltfish and fry dumpling.
21. What do you value most in life?
I value life, good friends, faith, fellowship and family; family is first. I love life.
22. What would you like to tell Jamaicans everywhere?
We are responsible for our actions. We appear to have lost our identity as a people and have taken a left turn off the road, and can’t seem to find the main road. I hope my music will help you to get through certain difficulties in your life. Music is supposed to inspire for positive things. Some people will blame music for a lot of atrocities, but people are responsible for their actions. However, the reality is music does inspire people in their actions, so hopefully my songs will motivate you to do good things and we can develop our self esteem as a group of people. Bring back LOVE to Jamaica and to the world at large.
Thank you for participating in this conversation Jimi D!! We wish you all the best in your future endeavors!
To learn more about Jimi D and his music, visit: JimiDmusic.com; Email [email protected]. Information courtesy of Jimi D’s biography, written by: Carol Hamilton