by Christine Scott
Once Chronixx and his band, Zincfence Redemption, hit the stage it was clear that the audience was his disciples, singing along, waving flags and basking in the new ambassador of reggae. Chronixx felt the energy of the mostly African and African-American crowd, and seemed to be experiencing his own high from the positive vibrations of his audience. Even though he’s only 23, Chronixx seems like an old Rasta soul, which was clearly evident when hearing him sing the classic Jacob Miller hit, “Tenement Yard: News Carryin’ Dread”. Most of the themes of Chronixx’s songs mirror those of classic roots-style reggae; oppression of the black man, the gun violence affecting the youth in Jamaica, corrupt politicians, and discrimination of the Rasta man. At other times Chronixx is comfortable playing the role of a young dub master, stripping the vocals from songs like “Capture Land” and giving them an electronic “dub style” edge. He’s comfortable in both worlds, appealing to a roots (i.e. older) crowd and the younger dub and dancehall generation.
Chronixx, whose real name is Jamar Rolando McNaughton, was raised in a musical community, being mentored by his father, the artist Chronicle, and surrounded by reggae royalty like Gregory Issaacs and Burro Banton. He has released two albums to date (“Hooked on Chronixx” and “The Dread and Terrible Project”), both to critical acclaim, and played in Nairobi as the “Peace Ambassador” during Kenya’s general elections. (Sometimes the similarities to other reggae royalty are striking.) During his Capture Land concert in this club on the outskirts of Washington D.C., Chronixx never skipped a beat. He sang all of his original recordings, leaving his most popular songs for the end, when the crowd was desperately pining for big hits like “Here Comes Trouble”, “Rastaman Wheel Out” and “Smile Jamaica”. The crowd (which included a big Ethiopian presence) was exuberant, swaying their arms back and forth and singing along as if they were all at Alfred’s on the beach in Negril. The energy in the room was infectious and after two hours of non-stop singing and dancing, Chronixx asked the audience if they wanted him to take the obligatory encore break or play right through. Neither he nor the crowd needed or wanted a break and he continued singing until the band left the stage. It was clear that the revival of roots, rock, reggae music, with Chronixx leading the revolution, had arrived.