Sunday, December 29, 2013

Chronixx & Jamaica's Roots Revival Profiled on NPR

Reggae artist Chronixx with his band. (Image courtesy of

Roots revival artists Chronixx, Protoje and Raging Fyah were profiled on National Public Radio (NPR)'s Weekend Edition Sunday. The piece described how the current generation of roots artists, which includes Chronixx, Protoje, Kabaka Pyramid, Iba Mahr, Dre Island and more, are collaborating with each other, recording and performing with live bands and also expanding the roots sound beyond its one-drop blueprint. Read and listen to this wonderful story that finally puts conscious and contemporary Jamaican music in front a national US radio audience.

Live bands. Soulful music. Substantive lyrics. I could be describing the Jamaican music scene circa 1976, the heyday of Bob Marley. But I'm talking about a sound that dominated at this year's Reggae Sumfest, Jamaica's biggest annual music festival.
Jamaican artist Chronixx, 20, performed live before nearly 10,000 fans at the yearly event. He's Jamaica's most buzzed-about artist right now, and he's leading the way in a rich musical movement: new-school roots. It's a bit of Rasta meets hipster. Chronixx says it's a repackaging of what came before.
"We are not going to do it like Bob Marley did or like Burning Spear did," Chronixx says. "We are using their blueprint to bring on a new generation of works."
It's a sound that's been in his ears since he was a kid. His father was a successful musician who went by the name Chronicle. Chronixx began writing songs at age 6 and started producing as a teenager. He says he went to "reggae school," which he compares to the rigorous demands of medical school.
"It's just like, before you go out there and do a surgery on a human being, you have to learn medicine, biology, chemistry — all the things you need to be a doctor," Chronixx says. "And in reality, artists don't do much different from doctors; they heal people. So you have to learn your craft good. It's a science. You have to learn the history."
While "Know Thy History" is an unspoken commandment of the new roots movement, it's not just about creating a musical carbon copy of the past — though the fashion sense of these artists definitely screams 1970s. Take new roots artist Protoje: He describes the style of his 2013 sophomore album, The 8 Year Affair, as a blend of traditional roots-reggae, modern-day rock and hip-hop.
"The first song I ever knew word-for-word was Slick Rick, 'Children's Story.' When I heard Slick Rick — that type of flow — I was like, 'Yo, it's so cool!' I didn't hear stuff like that. So I kind of started to pattern my style."