A young singer rises to the top by going against the grain in Jamaica's music industry.
Words and interview by Saxon Baird
At just 20-years old Jamaican-born artist Chronixx already has a handful of successful singles, music videos and a mixtape with Diplo’s Major Lazer. This is all before he’s even released a full-length album yet. But what makes Chronixx’s early success so intriguing is the way he’s done it. Spearheading a new reggae revival, Chronixx’s music is heavy on unwavering positivity and a live-band sound amidst a Jamaican music scene overrun with synth-heavy dancehall riddims and explicit lyrics. The result is a refreshing change of pace that just might alter the Jamaican music scene in a major way.
While on his way to the airport to embark on his second European tour, Chronixx chatted with us about his music, success and the new reggae revival in Jamaica.
Your music seems to embody almost the exact opposite of what is going on in dancehall with major artists like Popcaan or Mavado. Are you trying to purposefully distance yourself from these type of artists?
It’s not purposeful. As a matter of fact, I have no problem with all of the music being done by these artists because at the end of the day people are just a product of their experience and their environment. Fortunately for us, we happen to have come from a more positive place and more positive people and influences around us saying good things and playing good music.
See, I started producing first and foremost. And as a producer you are not used to the limelight and party and excitement. I am more used to being behind the scene so I try and continue to soak that up as much as possible. I am not a very public person. A public figure? Yes. But definitely not the type of person you see everywhere and every day. Many of these artists like to go out there and get constant feedback but I enjoy my sacred time to spend creating. So I think in the end it’s just a different thing rather than anything I planned or our artistic differences.
What is the message behind your music?
It’s just a message of acceptance and love. And Rastafari is the foundation of my message. It’s the best explanation and interpretation of what life is suppose to be. You have different people in the world with different approaches to life. But we as those youths here in the west, in the “western captivity,” find that Rastafari explains our situation. Rastafari is ultimately our reference, it’s our dictionary. If we want to know the meaning of anything, we look to Rastafari and it’s right there.
And you want to express that through your music.
We’re trying to reach the people. We want to tell them that Rastafari is the way and it’s worked for millions of people around the world. It doesn’t preach the negativity or carelessness or anything that is harmful to humanity. But it does preach a healthy and righteous life style — pure heart, clean heart. It preaches both things from the Bible and His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie. So, we put that forward for the people. And if it’s a lifestyle that they feel is fitting for them then they can take it.
Do you think that message resonates with Jamaicans?
I do because ultimately Rastafari is the life that we live in Jamaica. Whether they are Christian or Muslim or whatever. Jamaican lifestyle is very similar to what Rastafari put forward. Which is a simple way of living. And loving your brother so your brother love you. So, it’s really the people who are dispirited and the people who are poor at heart that we are trying to enrich with Rastafari teachings.
I am curious about your influences because your songs often are very different in style.
There is not a who or a what with my influences. It’s an unexplainable thing. We just love music. We are the third or fourth generation of reggae singers, you know? In the past, artists were not exposed to as much different sounds as we are now. Everything that the legends like Bob Marley, Peter Tosh or Third World listen to influenced their sound. But there is so much more music to listen to now. So we have a much more diverse influence that there isn’t a single one behind our songs.
You’ve spoken on the need for more professionalism in the Jamaican music industry, what did you mean by that?
Every now and then you have a Jamaican artist who emerges with a good team and a good set-up around his brand. And when that happens, it tends to happen big and that artist becomes big around the world. But in general in Jamaica, a man will just print a flyer with his face on it and expect you to come to the show without talking to anyone. Or a person will call his mother and ask if she can promote their show instead of a team or your official management. So I just think within dancehall, people are just used to doing stuff without being very professional. And it really hurts the business because everyone else in the world is taking a professional approach to it and we’re not. Unless you are just a person making music for leisure, then it’s work. It’s a profession and you need to treat it that way.
You are about the embark on your second European tour, how does your popularity in your Europe compare to your popularity in Jamaica?
Everyone in Jamaica knows who Chronixx is and they love the music and support the music. But it’s also growing in Europe and its growing fast because the population is bigger. And it’s a more powerful following than even in Jamaica. The demographic is different in Europe, though. They have a more diverse music scene. There is a whole lot more on their plate. But Chronixx is definitely popular there and we often get more exposure than some other reggae artists. But in Europe, there are so many more genres and artists to listen to there. If only 5 percent of the population of Europe listens to Chronixx, then it’s probably already five times the amount of people who listen to Chronixx in Jamaica, even if 100 percent of the population were to follow my music.
What can we expect from Chronixx in the next year?
That is one question that I don’t think I can answer. One thing I know for sure, though, is that as long as I am doing music it will be of good musical quality. It will always have a little bit of soul and depth. So that’s one thing you can always expect. And you can probably expect more of Chronixx out there in the world. Because besides producing the music, that’s the only thing I want to do: bring my music and message to people all over the world.