Who is Jimi Kendrix? Get to know the man behind the music

Jimi Kendrix (real name Kendred T. Smith) is a multi-platinum, ASCAP award-winning, Grammy-nominated music producer, drummer and entrepreneur from New York City. Having worked with and produced for iconic artists – including Jay-Z, Tupac, Ashanti, Wu-Tang Clan, Lloyd, Patti Labelle, 50 Cent, Ja Rule, Shyne and R. Kelly – Kendrix holds a respected legacy in the music industry and continues to gain recognition with every new project.

Kendrix is currently the CEO and co-founder of Producers Academy Music Group (under EMPIRE), a non-profit organization that educates music producers and artists about the music business and provides a platform to showcase new music talent.

Born and raised in Queens, Kendrix grew up in a musical family. His mother, Starlett Attmore, was a well-known gospel singer, and his father Kernal Smith was a well-known recording bass player. Kendrix’s own music career began at aged 2, playing pots and pans like drums at his grandparents’ church, where his grandfather was the bishop.

Kendrix first collided with the music industry when a chance to produce for his godsister, R&B recording artist Kelly Price, came along. Price was working on her debut album, ‘Soul of a Woman’, under Def Jam – she signed Kendrix and his brothers up to Priceless Music Management, her production company. From there, Kendrix began touring and performing as a drummer for a number of artists including Charlie Wilson, Iyanla Vanzant, and R. Kelly’s Grammy performance for ‘I Believe I Can Fly’.

From signing an in-house production deal with Irv Gotti (Top Dawg Productions / Murder Inc. Records), working on massive charting singles like ‘Wonderful’ by R. Kelly and Ashanti – which earned him an ASCAP award – to producing ‘I Did It My Way’ by Jay-Z from the 3x multi-platinum album ‘The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse’ (2002), Kendrix has earned his stripes on producing bonafide hit records.

Shortly after his stint at Murder Inc., Kendrix co-founded his own production company, ‘STREET RADIO’ with Jesse Matthews. For years, they produced hit records and songs for artists like 50 Cent, including ‘I Like The Way She Do It’ (2008) and ‘Off And On’ (2011). To this day, Kendrix continues to produce records with artists from all genres from around the world.

Alongside his music career, Kendrix has blazed a trail in the educational system, working in schools as a paraprofessional and behavior specialist in inner-city charter schools. In East Harlem, from 2009 to 2018, he also developed the first high school record label, Innovation Records, at Renaissance Charter High School for Innovation.

As the CEO of Producers Academy, he helps teach young people the art of music production as an incentive to improve their behaviour and school grades, and he hosts a music mentorship program that holds annual showcases in NYC. Kendrix takes pride in giving back to his community as an educator, mentor and motivational speaker. The producer says: “God, family, music. That’s my motto.”

When the producer’s not in the studio, you’ll find him speaking at events, delivering workshops, and leading mentorship programs across NYC.

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