Jonathan Arthur 'Chico' DeBarge was born in 1966 in Grand rapids, Michigan. He was a member of the musical DeBarge family that spawned the groups DeBarge and Switch, as well as the successful solo career of El Debarge.
Chico's own musical career started in the mid-1980s when he was signed to Motown Records. His self-titled debut album, Chico Debarge, was released in 1986 and achieved moderate success. 'Talk To Me,' the lead single, reached #21 on the Hot 100 and #7 on the R&B charts. The album's other single, 'The Girl Next Door,' failed to make significant impact on the charts, peaking at #59.
In 1988, Chico released his follow-up album, Kiss Serious. The album had heavy production by Prince & the Revolution bassist Brownmark and its sound emanates this. The single 'I've Been Watching You,' is rich in funk, reaching #43 on the R&B charts. Similarly, the title track maintains this funk and when released as a single, reached #53. The album's most successful single 'Rainy Nights' reached #18 on the R&B charts.
October of 1988 spelled trouble for Chico's career as he and brother Bobby DeBarge were arrested and convicted of trafficking cocaine. Both of the brothers were sentenced to six years imprisonment. During this time, Chico grew artistically as a musician as he used his hours of solitude to write.
Upon release from prison in 1994, Chico scored a deal with LaFace records. Conficts between the two parties arose however, and they parted on mutual ground.
1997 saw Chico's third release, 'Long Time No See' on the label Kedar. The album had mixed success on the charts, barely making headway with singles 'Virgin' and 'Soopaman Lover' which reached #97 and #55 on the R&B charts respectively.
In 1999, Chico released his fourth effort, The Game. The album had strong success with the track 'Give You What You Want' which reached #71 on the Hot 100 and #11 on the R&B charts. Much of the album appeared to be autobiographical, as the title track tells the story of an ex-con struggling to stay on the straight and narrow. Overall, the album showed Chico perfecting many of the styles he presented to listeners on his previous effort, Long Time No See.
Chico's last album to date, Free, was released on the independent label Koch in 2003. However, it is rumored that he is currently working on a new release.