Performing Arts

Reggae with a deep message from ‘Chronixx’


Jamaican artist Chronixx. PHOTO | COURTESY

Since the release of his debut album “Dread and Terrible” in 2014, Jamaican artist Chronixx has led a revival of message-oriented reggae that has been warmly embraced around the world. He has earned critical acclaim, a Grammy nomination for his last album “Chronology”, performed with global stars including U2 and Lauryn Hill, and recently recorded a remix with Alicia Keys for her single “Underdog.”

The disruption caused to the music business by the Covid-19 pandemic has offered the 26-year-old whose official name is Jamar McNaughton a fresh perspective on life and his community, as he revealed in an exclusive online interview with BDLife last week.

“Always make your home a fortress so that when the global system takes a hit then humanity does not have to suffer because every individual has a sense of their community as a support system.

For an artist whose schedule is always packed with international tours and performing in front of crowds, the past few months have been all about adopting his creativity to maintain the connection with his fan base.

“I maintain creativity and the production of content at the highest level possible which is the best means of interacting with the fans through songs, the visuals and the performances whether live or virtual,” says Chronixx.

He has just released a new single “Cool as Breeze/Friday” an upbeat, happy song that reflects the positive vibes of life in Jamaica.

“The environment of Jamaica, from the warm weather to the rich plant life and the energy of the people themselves inspires me to write this kind of tune,” he says.

The video portrays this feel-good atmosphere with Chronixx floating around Tivoli Gardens in Kingston, with the aid of special effects, in a community that he describes as among the most resilient people on the island, determined to eke out a living amid tough social conditions.

This is third single from his upcoming new album ‘Dela Splash’ on which he has devoted time and energy for the last two years and reflects the changes he has been experiencing in his personal life.

The music represents his circumstances emerging from youth and becoming more reflective on life, the development of his music career, from learning new instruments to the maturity of his vocal style.

‘Cool as Breeze’ is a very different sound and feel the from the first two singles from the new album: the percussion-cantered ‘Dela Move’, and ‘Same Prayer’ a spiritual tune featuring a guest appearance by Kabaka. He says the album will have a seamless feel, reflecting the evolution of Jamaican music, from the chants and drumming popularly known as Nyabhingi to the contemporary electronic sound of reggae and dancehall.

The album also reflects African rhythmic influences developed by a team of producers and singers who have been exposed to a diverse scope of music from around the continent, including Afrobeats, Ethio-jazz, and various traditional percussions. His last album ‘Chronology’ was a global success and earned Chronixx a Grammy nomination but he is not weighed down by the expectation from that success.

“People will never have to compare this album with Chronology because the new album will carry its beauty, it is a new chapter with a new experience,” he says.

Chronixx is at the forefront of a new generation of artists taking reggae back towards conscious, deeper-message music that it has traditionally been associated with.

“It is artists who make this conscious music that tour the most and have the widest global reach which is a blessing and makes the message unstoppable,” he says. He retains fond memories of the two times he has performed in Kenya in 2013 and again in 2016 comparing the reception to that of a homecoming. “It is humbling to make such a connection and that gives me the peace and confidence to keep making music because the people at home are appreciating my creativity.”

According to him, the recent events, especially in the US, that have stirred a reawakening of black consciousnesses.

Led by the Black Lives Matter movement provides an opportunity for solidarity among people of African origin.

"Even if you can't physically stick together, stay together within your hearts because it is a great time for people of African origin, wherever they may be, to put a confident foot forward," says Chronixx.