Reggae crooner Christopher Martin has been dominating the airwaves on his island of Jamaican, and now he's bringing his silky songs to new markets like the US. Pulling inspiration from R&B and Reggae greats like Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Peter Tosh, Garnett Silk, and his friend and mentor Beres Hammond, the singer-songwriter created his own unique sound, which is now loved by many.
Martin recently launched his U.S. takeover with the release of his debut EP, Steppin' Razor, via VP Records. The set is led by the title track, which carries the same title as Peter Tosh's 1977 classic, but Martin delivers a modern offering that is sweet, soulful, and refined while still enhancing the classical torch. He says the project is just a taste of what's to come on his full-length debut album.
Get to know Christopher Martin!
Are you excited about this new project?
Yeah mon, I’m very excited.
Tell me about the workings of Steppin' Razor?
Steppin' Razor the EP, with my label VP Records, is like the teaser leading up to my album. It’s like the medium creating awareness that something big is gonna happen very soon. The project all manifested from a couple of the songs that will be on the album plus other songs that's been doing very good already. It was a collective effort with VP Records and my creative team.
Is it a challenge trying to break into the U.S. market as a Jamaican artist or do you find it very welcoming?
With all new markets, it can be challenging because people are used to a certain thing already, but at the end of the day, my vibes is different. I think it’s welcoming, it’s refreshing, and it’s new. The difference with me, as opposed to other artists, is whenever you hear Christopher Martin on stage or see my live performance, it's the same thing that's on the record. I still maintain the vibe and the energy no matter the medium. So even if I perform if front of a market or crowd that's predominantly isn't a reggae market, we will leave an impact based on the fact that my live performance is very, very live… It makes it easier for me to cross over to different genres or markets.
Are you based in the states or on the island?
I'm in the Islands. I'm based in Kingston, Jamaica.
When did you realize that you wanted to pursue music as a full-time career?
I think I knew I wanted to do music full-time around 2006 after I won this competition in Jamaican called the Rising Stars, which is like American Idol over here. Growing up, I always wanted to be a Chemical Engineer, so if music didn’t happen that would have been my path. When I won the competition, I saw the effect and the impact the music had on the people, I was like I could make this my substance of survival. So, that's where music started for me (yeah mon). But, from a very tender age I knew I could sing; from like 5 or so.
Who are some of the people that inspired you when you were growing up?
I'm heavily inspired by old school music like Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Al Green; I'm heavily impacted by those musicians. On the Reggae side, I love Beres Hammond, Peter Tosh, Garnett Silk; they've played a very integral part in the way I interpreted music growing up.
I was waiting for you to mention Beres; he's one of my favorites.
Yeah mon, definitely. Growing up and listening to Beres and being in the music right now, and him being a mentor to me and also my friend, its awesome man.
It's crazy how things work sometimes. So, you have the song 'Steppin' Razor,' which is similar to the Peter Tosh record, but you give it your own vibe and delivery. Tell me about the workings of that record.
I always wanted to dabble with that record. When I received the instrumental, the first thing that came out my mouth was 'I'm a walking razor, don't you watch my size, I'm dangerous,' and it fits so perfectly on the riddim [track]. At the end of the day, I didn't want it to be a complete cover, so I just took those lyrics and sang it the way I wanted to sing it. Like being a 'Steppin' Razor' where girls are concerned or where dressing is concerned. I'm just explaining why I feel like I'm a 'Steppin' Razor,' kind of like the way Tosh was telling people how he was a 'Steppin' Razor.'
Well, I love what you did with it, I have it on repeat!
Yeah mon, respect!
Tell me about your future plans man. You put out the EP, so when do you plan to drop the full-length album? Also, are you planning to tour in the States?
The EP is doing well, so we're watching the progress of it. The full-length album will be released soon as well, probably a few months. I definitely have to tour to make sure we are expanding the promotions and touching new markets as well as markets that are big on Christopher Martin. Leading from the summer down to the end of the year, it's gonna be pure problems… Steppin Razor (lol).
So, as you get ready to enter some new markets, what should new fans expect from Christopher Martin?
I would love to say that I'm very diverse. My album have songs for everybody. For those people who love R&B or Hip-Hop, we have that kind of vibe on it. We have songs for people who are religious, we have songs for people who like to party and turn up, we have songs for people who just want to chill back, we have songs for everybody. We tried to cover every aspect. The album can be listened by everybody, there is nothing explicit about it; it's very commercial. It's a body of work that I'm very proud and happy about, and I hope the people will love it as much as I do.