Rapper who spent early years in Westmoreland, embraces ‘Changes’
Burkett was born in Miami, Florida but grew up in Westmoreland, Jamaica with his grandparents after both his Jamaican parents abandoned him in the US.
American-born rapper Jonathan Burkett is the ultimate survivor. Homeless at the age of 14, abandoned by his parents and afflicted by a brain aneurysm then a brain tumour, Burkett has an intimate relationship with adversity. This pain and a will to endure shines through in his inspirational brand of hip hop soul music.
"In my music, I talk about violence, the murder of blacks, the drug culture where we are doing what they want us to do, I try to tell black people to open our eyes and see that we are just killing our own selves, they are using our own brothers to kill us, you got to open your eyes," Burkett said.
The song, 'Changes' featuring Latin singer Polancapop, reflects Burkett's philosophy: change, although uncomfortable and oftentimes difficult, is a necessary part of any individual's life.
"I believe that Polancapop with her soaring voice and her personality is giving this song a boost, she is part of the Latin world because she is Spanish, the song is getting love in that world, everybody loves the track as far the beat, the messages, melody and energy," he said.
The single, 'Changes', is produced by Troyton Rami -- best known for co-producing Sean Paul's 2001 smash hit, 'Gimmie The Light' -- and was released recently. It is the follow-up to 'One Life', another message-oriented song Burkett wrote, that was produced by Willie Lindo's Heavy Beat Records.
The increased buzz around the 'Changes' song led to the release of a video in July, and Burkett's EP, 'Born to Make It' was re-released on August 1 on iTunes.
"I do this and make the kind of inspirational music I make because of the upsetting childhood I’ve gone through living out on the streets since I was 14, not having parents that wanted or cared if I died or lived. Music helps me to feel good and feel thankful for just life itself," he said.
Burkett was born in Miami, Florida but grew up in Westmoreland, Jamaica with his grandparents after both his Jamaican parents abandoned him in the US. Then social services in the US demanded that he return to the United States at age 5. He spent years in foster homes in South Florida.
"I used to come back to Jamaica every Summer during my teenage years, I went back to Moreland Hill two years ago, I also want to contribute by building a computer lab for the primary school back where I grew up, " he said.
Burkett returns to Jamaica periodically now, more often to give back to his community and to impoverished schools in the inner city. He donated to the breakfast feeding programme at a visually-impaired school in Stony Hill with the aid of street guru Stampede. He also contributes to supplemental nutrition programmes in impoverished schools in inner-city areas in Hollywood, South Florida.
"I give back to kids mostly because I feel your childhood inspires you to become the person that you could be. It took me awhile in my adult life to get over all the things I’ve been through but I’ve made it through. I’ve been through the hate and violence throughout my life. I’ve suffered from an aneurysm in my brain then had a brain tumour after brain surgery while living out on the streets trying to survive going back and forth in jail, but I made it through thanks to God, my Lord and saviour," he said.