26-year-old Jamaican reggae singer Chronixx (Jamar McNaughton) performing with his father Chronicle at Knitting Factory, Brooklyn, NY on May 28, 2018. Excerpt from a longer video shot by Stephanie Wakefield, coming soon.
Paraphrasing words first spoken by Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie in 1963 which come across with new significance in the back loop, Chronixx sees ours as an “unprecedented” situation in which we face “new problems. Searching the pages of history for answers to these problems will only lead to a certain point and no further. These are brand new problems.” For Chronixx, required today is neither a revival of the past nor a solution waiting off in the sky, but the generation of new cultures and aesthetics from the vast reservoir of resources found around us. It’s a matter, he suggests, of
Becoming open to the sounds that exist within your consciousness. Sounds that you hear in your dreams, sounds that you hear in meditation, sounds that you hear in nature. This song that we’re looking for, this song that we’re trying to write, already exists. The birds already sing it before you. Thunder is the first bass, and the ocean is the first chimes.
Instead of a return to roots, he says, call his work “black experimental music.” Weaving together diverse elements from his experience as a youth in what he calls the “rough training camp” of Spanish Town, Jamaica with colonial and postcolonial traditions, Chronixx is making an ethically and aesthetically powerful form of music and style crafted from the landscapes and legacies of his own back loop. His training came from his father, dancehall legend Chronicle, who instructed Chronixx to use mop sticks and Guinness bottles as mics and to imagine palm trees as the audience. Because the reggae style Chronixx wanted to make was out of fashion, as a teenager he taught himself how to produce everything, spending countless days hanging out in recording studios, at home watching Youtube videos, practicing production software and hardware.
Across diverse registers Chronixx forwards a powerful and unique style made through sound, image, and attitude that flips the script on the modern colonial laboratory, transfiguring its parameters and putting them to new use. In his view this whole approach not a new thing. “Remember that black people in the Western world, our last names are ‘Smith’ and ‘Brown’ and ‘McIntosh.’ So we literally had to experiment with our soul to create music… Because, ina opposed to the people in West Africa, who grew up with thousands and thousands of years of musical practices, and the freedom to practice those ancient cultural music, we had to dig deep in our souls to find it.”