by Dom Jones
I’ll admit that I’m no reggae aficionado, but when a friend introduced me to the music of Chronixx almost five years ago, it made me want to explore the genre more. Not only did I find other reggae artists that I enjoyed, I became a full on Chronixx superfan. The first song that I ever heard by Chronixx was a song called “Somewhere,” and it was a love song that felt so different from the R&B of my generation, harkening back to soul from the 50s, 60s, and 70s with almost a feeling of courtship. Take a listen below:
After hearing the song, I thought, “I’d go out with this guy, if he asked.” There was nothing overly aggressive, untoward, or lewd about the approach. It was just like… let’s hang out, don’t waste your life, have fun and be yourself. I like you. There were no commands to shake anything or bend in any strange way. In fact, there were no references to how the woman he was speaking to looked at all. I would discover over time that the music of Chronixx is filled with lessons, thoughts on life, documentation of social challenges (see: Here Comes Trouble) and most of all: love as a solution. That’s clear in his lead single “Likes” for his album Chronology. Listen below:
In the age of social media and content as currency, it’s a bold move for an artist to so plainly say, “I do it for the love, I don’t do it for the likes.” But even though the young singer may not be doing it for retweet and double taps, the people seem to uniformly adore him! I saw him two years ago in Oakland at a popular venue, and the show was sold out. I saw his show just a few months ago in Boston, and the show was sold out. He continues to sell out mid to large sized venues in the U.S. and abroad. Additionally, his show has drastically improved from the first time I saw him, all the way down to the opening act. His opening act for the show in Oakland was a singer named Kelissa, who I did not enjoy, but for the Boston show (though Kelissa was still there for a few songs with Chronixx), his opening act Jah9 was a powerhouse that seemed more in line with his overall messaging and brand, and showed me that Chronixx wasn’t afraid to have someone just as talented precede him in the show.
Standouts on Chronology include “Ghetto Paradise,” which is a tune about the beauty and struggle of living in Jamaica, and has the unique Chronixx stamp on it: a traditional reggae groove and cadence with a more contemporary melody. “Smile Jamaica” will harken the listener back to some of Chronixx’s reggae predecessors, including Bob Marley, as this is a more traditional feel good reggae song and a fan favorite at shows. Songs like “I Can” pull from pop in its production style and big chorus, and then gospel in its messaging. There are a few songs on the album where we hear Chronixx exploring other genres, which will absolutely help his global appeal. He doesn’t stray enough to make the listener feel as though he’s abandoning reggae, but just enough to let the listener know that reggae isn’t all there is to him. “Black Is Beautiful” is one of my favorite songs on the album, addressing what it means for black children to grow up never hearing positive attributes of blackness or seeing positive images that reflect themselves in school, media, or other mediums with which they engage on a daily basis. Again, here we hear Chronixx step away from the traditional reggae sound, for an almost hip-hop soul sound and beautiful strings creating depth in the sonic landscape of this tune. “Loneliness” is his best effort to combine his reggae roots with what’s happening in the mainstream as pop music tries to co-opt Caribbean, Afro-Latinx, and African sounds. You could definitely hear this song played next to some trash pop star’s song with a fake tribal sound, but it would be the only authentic one among them. For that, I’m ecstatic that Chronology became the #1 album on the iTunes Reggae charts and #13 overall. The authentic purveyors of the music should be the ones receiving he most shine. Chronology is an album that sounds like it’s finally Chronixx’s time.
CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT CHRONIXX, AND TELL US YOUR FAVORITE CHRONOLOGY SONG IN THE COMMENTS!