The once rising star is now “big big”.
Christopher Martin has quickly become a household name. The Reggae/Dancehall singer, songwriter and actor burst onto the music scene in 2005 after winning the Digicel Rising Stars title. With a unique tone and vocal range that very few artists can attain, Martin’s career has been on an upward trajectory ever since.
Martin went on to sign a deal with VP Records and has released numerous hits such as “Cheater’s Prayer”, “Paper Loving”, “Magic”, and his new smash single “Big Big.” Martin is a star on and off the stage with a reputation for delivering solid live performances. He embodies the swagger and stage presence of a modern-day rock star. The Christopher Martin live experience is vocal excellence. I had the opportunity to have a conversation with the “Magic” singer at the very famous Big Yard Studio to see how he creates magic in the booth, his exciting music career and how he approaches relationships.
I had the pleasure of seeing Martin perform live at Reggae Sumfest and it was quite the experience. His voice was big and commanded attention. His vocals left such an impression on me when I left the music festival that I expected a larger than life persona when we met at Big Yard Studio, but that was not the case. Instead, I was greeted by a very soft-spoken, humble gentleman who seemed very reserved. I quickly discovered that his larger than life performances are saved for the stage. We got comfortable in the studio and I could tell that Martin was in his element.
FRIENDSHIPS AND USING DISCERNMENT:
A good support system is vital to having a successful career in the entertainment industry. It is essential for encouragement, motivation, and keeping the artist grounded. Martin expressed how his circle of friends gave him the most important push of his life, which actually launched his music career.
What gave you the courage to enter the Digicel Rising Star competition?
My friends! My friends believed in me more than I ever believed in myself. Everyone was talking about what they were going to do, some of my friends are more fortunate than others, so they had family that could pay for school and some of them wanted to go with a student loan, but I wasn’t a part of that. So they were like yo Rising Star is going to come on this year anyway, why don’t you just enter and win! They said if you enter you cannot lose, so I said alright. So my friends always believed in me from jump street. They always said they don’t see anybody that can sing close to me! They would say anything you do with your voice is going to be a win so just go for it.
That’s really good that you have a really encouraging circle, I think a lot of artists might take that for granted. You do have to be careful with that because sometimes you will have the yes men that will just tell you anything to stick around. How do you find that balance?
From a very tender age, my support system was always there for me and they always aided me in every way possible, you understand? I could always decipher from the ones that were like yeah, from the singer say a so it go, a so it go. We know dem one deh, those are the yes men. But then I have the ones who are there for me like, yo do that or try this. Those are the good ones. The Almighty gave me that discerning spirit from a very tender age so I grew up that way.
You mentioned discernment. A lot of people don’t use discernment and it’s really good as an artist that you practiced that at an early age. Just using discernment to determine the energy that you want to be around you. Tell me about that.
100%. It’s very vital. And when you grow to understand that, then you can see the path in which the Almighty is trying to take you. He will filter out people that need to be around you. He will also filter out the ones who are not supposed to.
I’M AN ARTIST:
So, there’s a debate going on about you. Some people feel you’re a Lover’s Rock artist, and then others think, no he’s a Dancehall artist. Do you think people are trying to box you in?
I’m definitely an artist. But a lot of the people love the fact that I’m a singer. They want me to sing. But at the end of the day I just feel like I can do whatever I want. You know what I mean? That’s why I’m doubling down. I dabble in the crossover kind of vibe. I can never be caged. I’m not cagey. There are no barriers where my voice can’t go. There are no boundaries, no limits.
It actually shows. I feel like you cater to all the audiences. You have something for all the demographics. You cater to the ladies. You have music for current events and the things that are happening in the country. I would say you are a very versatile.
We are very commercial. We try to showcase versatility in everything that we do and that’s done. So yeah, if there’s a full turn up at my mother’s church and they want me to pull up, I pull up. I can accommodate whatever vibe they’re having. You understand? We try to ensure that even if it’s kind of an edgy kind of topic, we try to ensure that the language that is laced with it is pleasing to everyone’s ear. From the oldest to the youngest. It doesn’t have to be censored.
THE SHIFT IN DANCEHALL AND REGGAE:
Do you feel like there’s any shifting that’s happening in Dancehall or Reggae right now that is affecting the artists to where they’re not seeing the crossover success that they used to see from the era of Beenie Man or just past eras?
Well, you could pinpoint a few things. I feel like the beats are different now. Back then Dancehall itself, Dancehall and Reggae, had a more identifiable kind of vibe. You identified it “Dancehall.” You understand. This is definitely a culture thing. This is from Jamaica. But now it’s created with some different kinds of drums. We’re trying influences from Afrobeats, trying influences from Hip Hop. So it’s not a hundred percent authentic Dancehall or Reggae music, but it’s working for them in some sense of the word working. For that major crossover success, I feel like it has to have that identity. It has to have that Jamaican-ness. So, I feel like we’re moving away from that, but everything’s a cycle, everything goes 360.
Do you think it’s going to come back around?
Definitely, man. A hundred percent.
Now let’s talk Reggae music. Reggae music has always been known to speak about current events and things that affect the world. Not only the fun stuff, but really do deep dives into topics that matter. Currently, a lot of people believe that this is lacking in Reggae music but you kind of stepped out of that grouping when you did your song “Violence Against Women.” Why did you decide to record that song?
Definitely, man. A hundred percent. I don’t even view it as a risk. Never, you know what I mean? I view it as like something that had to be done. I felt like all this was upon me. I have a medium through which I can reach the masses. I can reach the population on a wide scale with lots of people looking to me, a lot of people listen to me.
It was such a brave thing for you to do, because I think a lot of artists right now, they’re chasing the algorithms, and they are all about the numbers. They want the radio plays and the spins and they want to make it on the playlists on Spotify and Tidal. So for you to decide, okay, I don’t care about that. I need to utilize my platform and do this song on violence against women, that was a major thing! As a woman, I want to thank you for that.
Thank you very much ma’am, I appreciate it. This is something that is happening in our country at this time. So, I feel like it’s not even just to be a defender of the ladies, it’s just utilizing my platform. It is my civic duty and it’s my moral duty.
“CHEATERS PRAYER” VS “MONOGAMY”:
Martin is not only an amazing singer, but also a brilliant songwriter. While digging deeper into his writing process, I uncovered the magic and the motive behind one of Martin’s biggest and most controversial songs “Cheaters Prayer.”
Let’s talk “Cheaters Prayer.” Where did that come from? Is that real life for you?
No, I’m definitely not a cheater.
So, you’re not the cheater, but you wrote the song for the cheater?
I wrote that song for people who struggle with the whole commitment thing. At some point in time, you just have to call a spade, a spade. People are attractive. You will have the yin and the yang and then you’ll have the steel and the magnet. And someone can be in something at a certain point in time, and they will see someone they’re attracted to, or someone is constantly around them and they feel a certain vibe. So, some people indulge. It all boils down to the strength of that individual, but people will always be attracted to other people. So I talk about that in the song.
Do you believe in monogamy?
Monogamy is very difficult. Very, very difficult. At this point in time in my life, I’m not pro monogamy. I’m pro respect and honesty and being upfront. So, at no point in time will I say to someone that I can offer this and I cannot offer it. You understand? I’m one of those people who struggle with commitment but I’m big on respect and transparency.
Where did that struggle come from?
I am of the belief that it’s hard. It’s very hard to be with one person forever.
Did you have any examples in your life of people that have been in relationships with more than one person at a time and also monogamous relationships?
Of course! My parents have been married for 13-odd years. I’ve seen them together. But to each his own. My parents aren’t me and their beliefs aren’t necessarily my beliefs. I can draw inspiration from different things, how I feel inside is different from what I see. On my travels and everything, my mind opens up. It’s a difficult thing. So, it’s easier to just be transparent about whatever you want to do and be trustworthy.
So you are comfortable with an open relationship where you both can be with other people?
We can be good for two, three years and then something happens. It doesn’t discount the fact that I gave my all to you for two, three years, but I explained to you that I might mess up.
What if she messes up?
It can’t work. I can’t handle that.
It can’t work for you? What’s the difference?
The difference is from jump, she’s going to say that she’s about that life. Monogamy life. And she accepts me for me and I accept her for her. So she can’t step out to that part of the deep end.
If I’m looking at this as a contract, that doesn’t sound like a fair exchange.
I wouldn’t say it’s a fair or an unfair exchange. Just what you bring to the table. Well, it’s what you said from jump street, so you were honest about it. You are honest about yourself and she was honest about herself. She said she will stay faithful so I am taking her word.
Ok Chris, some would say that sounds very one sided but to each his own.
In 2019, Martin released the album, “And Then,” that did well on the charts and contained beautiful melodies like “Tears in Her Eyes” and the Dancehall hit “Can’t Dweet Again.” Up next, fans can expect the release of a “Big Big” project currently in the works. Martin dropped two new singles “Little Green Apples” and “Nobody Knows” to give fans a taste of his much-anticipated new project. But don’t worry ladies, when I asked him if his new music will cater to his core fan base he responded with his signature catch phrase “You Kno Di Schwepps!”