Chronixx Talks About The Importance of Music To Jamaicans

The artist Chronixx, born Jamar McNaughton, is 24 years old. But he’s already been hailed as the leader of Jamaica’s roots revival moment: an island-wide return to old-school reggae.

 

He’s not so sure, though, that what he plays should be considered purely reggae. His debut album, Chronology, released this past July, is a project of what he calls “black experimental music” — a label that reflects his different influences, which range from gospel and funk to ska and electronic music.

 

“Remember that black people in the Western world, our last names are ‘Smith’ and ‘Brown’ and ‘McIntosh,'” he says. “So we literally had to experiment with our soul to create music.” This, he says, is in contrast to musicians in West Africa, “who grew up with thousands and thousands of years of musical practices, and the freedom to practice those ancient cultural music.”

And, he says, Jamaican music — which has been hugely influential on popular music worldwide — has itself long been influenced by music elsewhere. Ska was shaped by New Orleans jazz; reggae by American soul, blues and funk; dancehall by hip-hop and vice versa. His music taps into all of these traditions, which he sees as “all part of the same family tree.”

“I personally can’t see the difference sometimes,” he remarks. “You know, it’s just the cultures and the language that is different. But the beat — the heartbeat — remain the same.”

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