Marvin "Jah Bami" Walters is an underdog in the game, known for his gregarious and outspoken personality. The well-loved entertainer is popular the world over, yet his brand maintains a modest presentation, despite this major success. Perhaps it's Jah Bami's ability to make everyone around him feel comfortable; his appeal is massive and spans from Caribbean fans in his native country of Trinidad and Tobago, to the reggae lovers in Slovenia.
Besides having procured a successful solo career, Jah Bami is also the vocalist for international sound-system Suns of Dub, with Addis Pablo and Ras Jammy. He started his own record label called Sebat Records in 2014, and was also a producer and director for Viacom's MTV affiliate station TEMPO, based in The Caribbean. Earlier in the year, Jah Bami hit us with his mixtape titled Suave, featuring 19 new songs including one of his signature steel-pan versions. Fire tune after fire tune, including "She Love Rasta," and "Unconditional Love," we became even more interested in his journey. So, we wanted to catch up with Jah Bami to learn about his Caribbean roots, what it's like to represent Trinidad as a global reggae artist and see what upcoming projects he has in the works.
KingstonToLA: Tell us about your journey and what it has been like to be from the Caribbean and spread your message worldwide?
Jah Bami: My journey touring, worldwide, has been very interesting, educational and also fun. Being from Trinidad and Tobago, a dot on the world map, it's very interesting to see the wider world and how the world is built, with all the skyscrapers and how people travel. They're so many different transportation systems that I've used when traveling as well; like in Japan we did four different cities and we drove everywhere. What really made it amazing was the food. Being in Europe, it has now become like a second home for me. I really love Belgium because it's home, Holland because you have a chance to partake in your medicinal, especially if you're a herbalist like myself. It's good because I am a Caribbean youth and I still get the opportunity to travel and perform.
KNG2LA: Specifically, what is it like representing Trinidad and Tobago as a global reggae artist?
Jah Bami: It's a very big thing because the origin of music that we celebrate there is soca music, calypso, caiso and it's totally different from what I do, which is reggae. So you know, you do get the support but most people would prefer that I would do more Trini stuff. But, it's good that I get the opportunity as a Trinidad and Tobago-born person to sing reggae music, and be among some of the best who did and are doing it. I am super grateful for that. It can be tough to represent a place that doesn't understand what you're doing globally. Eventually, you would hope that they can see it and this would lead to me performing at some big concerts where I was born in Trinidad. So, I am working on that.
KNG2LA: What message do you hope to spread with your music?
Jah Bami: Of course love, unity, caring, sharing; education is a must. Having a personal relationship with God or with who you may consider your savior. Having that personal relationship with yourself, the growth of self and belief in self. It's all about you. Some people just sing about what they have but I'm trying to do music that can't expire.
KNG2LA: What keeps you going and how do you find inspiration?
Jah Bami: Friends, family, and my children because I want to set an example for them, that they too can travel the world and believe in themselves and do things on a much greater level than I ever have. When the going gets tough, then the tough get going, so sometimes I enjoy the challenges in the music because it gets really tough for real. Especially for me, again being a Trinidadian artist and doing reggae, you would wish your country could see the great things that you're doing and putting Trinidad on the map, but sometimes they're not really paying attention to someone like me because of the genre that I choose to represent. But, when I do go out there in the world and people come up to me and they say your voice blessed me, that keeps me going. So I'm grateful for people, not just a nationality.
With his father being a young DJ, Jah Bami grew up listening to all kinds of music by attending dances with his him, when it was his turn to care for a young Jah Bami. This influenced his music, listening to artists such as Augustus Pablo, Hugh Mundell, Anita Baker, Michael Jackson, Cameo, a lot of alternative music including Blink 182 and Green Day. He now has a worldwide perspective, which has led to an international fan base in places more than a stone's throw from his roots.
Perhaps it's his upbeat demeanor and commitment to spread love that attracts a tribe of like-minded music lovers to Jah Bami, but his influence is strong. He was recently named the brand ambassador for Legally High, has his own brand of rolling papers and collaborates on various projects with UK based streetwear brand RastaToTheBone clothing. His team also runs strong, with worldwide connections including Belgian-based management, DJ Bramma Shanti.
Most recently, Jah Bami released his brand new album titled 20/20 produced by P-Dub (Dub Assassins) and Addis Pablo. Stay tuned for more new music coming up from Sebat Records, as the team plans to distribute digital as well as vinyl tracks.
Listen to "Minimal" below and click HERE for more big tunes from 20/20:
Jah Bami continues to impress with his outstanding work ethic, classic genre-bending R&B voice and his message of belief; believing in oneself to make dreams and goals a reality.
Listen to Jah Bami's powerful voice here, with Suave on KingstonToLA:
Also listen to the cross-genre single "Soca On Dub" produced by WuDuB?!, featuring Yozayah here on KingstonToLA:
Featured photos captured by Marc de Vos Photography.