Jamar McNaughton. 26 years old. Spanish Town, Jamaica. Came and mashed down Alexandra Palace, London as Chronixx! It would be SO tempting to write this whole blasted review in patois but I can’t lie, I can’t deal with doing translations.
Ok I lied. Mek mi tell yuh – di man ah mek real movements fi reggae music, Rastafari and Jamaica! Memba mi tell unuh! Despite being a proud Jamaican Rasta myself, I genuinely am a huge Chronixx supporter, lover of reggae and will speak my peace like I would any other time. Suh mek we gwaan!
Now, I have seen this great man perform in Sheffield a few years back. Around the time his first album Dread & Terrible came out. I loved him then, I love him more now! His style has remained consistent in my opinion. Let me expand – he still sings about and raises awareness on political and cultural issues, spreads love as well as advocates for peace and positive vibes. A real Rastaman.
The only things that have changed is that his stage presence has grown massively. He also has a much larger and diverse following. Years ago, he simply stood on stage and sang. No big dancing, just an occasional sway and a few casual steps across the stage. Now?! Wah, this man will drop skank, fling shoulder and jump with no shame! THIS is the Chronixx I really stan’ for. Unapologetic, free, expressive and authentic.
I arrived at Alexandra Palace, Sunday 11th Nov and stood in awe for a moment. Clearly never seen the building before (I’m an adopted Londoner for those that didn’t know) and I found it very impressive. It was huge! I turned around and watched people swarm towards the stairs. Young, old, black, white, Asian, bald heads, dreadlocks, weaves, naturals, tall, short, marga, fluffy! Any and everyone came out in force. The smell of sensi floated around, I smiled to myself before almost laughing out loud at the sight of a London red bus pulling up baring CHRONIXX on the front. Absolute legend. Why? Cah only him could write ah lyric bout di Queen ah mash up H’Englan and then use one of her buses fi bare his name and drop people off at his concert.
My lovely companion and PRDN photographer that night, Filly, arrived and we rushed up the stairs and was met with one LONG NUH RAATID QUEUE that looked like Notting Hill Carnival, seriously. In my head I cussed a thousand times cos it was chilly b! We got inside and as Filly was on photo duties that meant we were separated briefly, but I have no problem standing alone in a room full of people when there is music I enjoy. I quickly found a corner spot and joined in with a group of ladies banter and enjoyed the opening act. Protoje.
For those that aren’t familiar, Protoje is another popular Jamaican reggae artist, hailing from Saint Elizabeth. Protoje warmed the crowd nicely, dropping tunes such as Like This and Rasta Love (ft. Ky-Mani Marley). After this song, he explained how over the years he made a point of making and sustaining friendships in the UK. To solidify this claim, he brought out WSTRN. In my head, I lost my sh*t! Do you know how mad it is to see Haile and his 10ft dreads on stage in a room full of rasta’s?! Oooiii! Speaking of Haile, after WSTRN performed Ben Ova, Protoje went on to perform Hail Rastafari and there was a huge image of King Haile Selassie on the screen. I felt proud… then I saw someone waving a Lion of Judah flag and my heart burst.
My country was really representing loud and proud that sweet Sunday night. A short lovers rock interval paved way for a hall of women to screech Janet Kay’s Silly Games (refer to Spotify, play volume, thank me later) and everyone else to do up karaoke before the man himself graced the stage.
In his khaki attire and rastacap. Fun fact: Rasta’s are expected to wear camo/military coloured garments and/or bare the colours of the Lion of Judah/Jamaica flag – red, gold, green, black. He opened up with one of his earliest singles Don’t Give Up followed by They Don’t Know. It was clear there were day one supporters inside as people sang every word. Now, falling out of the exact order they were performed he also dropped Captured Land (Queen Lizzy diss track) and Here Comes Trouble from his first album. His second album: Chronology, is what I am sure most of us were there to hear live and direct. He did not disappoint… well, except for NOT performing the two tunes I really did want to hear.
Majesty is a beautiful nod to all the Queens, Empresses and Sistahs. Spanish Town is a proud acknowledgement of his roots as does Smile Jamaica (which can be taken as a double entendre).
Referring back to my mention of Chronixx being unafraid to shed light on more pressing issues. He boldly sang and skanked through Likes which speaks on people being so invested in impressing people via social media. So much so, that some people overlook authenticity in what they’re doing, why they are doing it and who they are doing it for. He definitely does practise what he preaches. Another fun fact: ‘Fling’ is the only dance for this song! I saw people scattered around flinging shoulders and it made me giddy lol. Ghetto Paradise and Black is Beautiful raises awareness on social, cultural and educational views, ignorance, systematic behaviour and the need for change. Towards the end Chronixx brought Protoje back on stage to perform their track Who Knows and then explained to the crowd that he was just 18yrs old when he met Protoje and they have been friends since. The respect and support was evident to see.
It got to 11pm. Chronixx was performing Legend which I believe was his last song but I never heard the end of it as I was literally swamped by a sea of people heading for the exits. My 5ft self made it out in one piece and all but bogled my dainty self home. I was proud! For Chronixx, for Jamaica, for reggae, for Rasta’s, for blacks, for the diversity in the venue, for that moment of peace and love and genuine good vibes!
Chronixx was right when he said “Isn’t reggae music so sweet?!” and the crowds loud cheers was a clear sign of agreement. Perfect way to spend a Sunday night. My locs are still attached to my scalp despite the few overly enthusiastic swings they endured. My cheeks have stopped aching from kinnin teet (aka smiling very hard) but my heart… is still very much full.
Chronixx, thank you! I will meet him one day guys! Mek it known, mek di universe tek it and di ppl seh “JAAAH! Rastafaaariiii!”