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Tuesday, 07 March 2017 15:13

What Rasta taught Chronixx

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Chronixx wanted to light some incense. In his room at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood, the 24-year-old Jamaican recording artist leading the so-called “reggae revival” was looking to chill and maybe neutralize the botanical stench that came from the steam chalice sitting on his rumpled bed.

It was noon on Tuesday, two days before he was set to begin his U.S. tour to promote his new album, Chronology, and he had just pulled an all-nighter with his managers, Pierre Bost and Brendon “Daddi Barnz” Sharpe, to mix the album and perfect its riddims.

Since Chronixx (né Jamar McNaughton) arrived in New York the week before last, he’s had a whirlwind schedule, including an appearance on The Tonight Show with his band, Zinc Fence Redemption. Host Jimmy Fallon has been a Chronixx fan since hearing his music play non-stop while on a vacation to Jamaica in 2014, and Chronixx increased his international renown after his first appearance on Fallon that summer, with his EP Dread & Terrible returning to the No. 1 spot on the Billboard reggae album chart.

Then, Chronixx’s message, writ large that same year with his global hit “Here Comes Trouble,” was to announce a sea change in Jamaican music away from pervasive dancehall and back to roots music, as soulfully created by followers of the Rastafari movement. On his new album, the bold innovation comes in beats and sounds. The songs “Majesty” and “Likes” both have an ’80s slow-jam vibe that gets alchemized into an up-tempo blend of music from Jamrock over the last half-century. The latter song distills the intent by stressing a commitment to authenticity with the tone of someone who has already arrived and doesn’t need recognition: “Mek dem know substance over hype/ Dweet fi di luv mi nuh dweet fi di likes.”

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