Two recent high-profile performances in New York City by Jamaica’s most talked about reggae artist, Chronixx, have resulted in a sales surge and significant international career boost for the 21-year-old Rastafarian sing-jay. Chronixx (b. Jamar McNaughton) and his band Zinc Fence Redemption made their Digital Reggae Singles chart.
Sales of Dread and Terrible have also surged. The 10-track EP was released on April 1 and topped the Reggae Album Chart for the week of April 18. This week it returns to the No. 1 slot with total sales of 5,000 units, according to SoundScan. Before these high profile performances, the EP had moved just 400 units.
“The Jimmy Fallon appearance brought a lot of light to Chronixx’s music. A lot of record companies called or came to meet us (while we were in New York) but we haven’t changed our plans to keep our music independent for now,” said London-based Pierre Bost, part of Chronixx’s management team alongside Kingston based Brendon “Daddy Barnz” Sharpe and Esther “Keke” Tomlinson. Chronixx’s forthcoming album, the tentatively titled Ancient Future is due in spring/summer 2015. “The Fallon and the Central Park shows have also brought Chronixx and Zinc Fence the opportunity to perform on major festivals in North America in 2015 and will bring more traffic to our web store at Chronixxmusic.com that we plan to open soon.”
The Central Park gig, held in Rumsey Playfield, was the grand finale of the east coast leg of Chronixx’s Dread and Terrible tour. His six-week European tour commences on August 1 at Belgium’s Reggae Geel Festival. He tours the west coast in November and Australia and New Zealand (for the first time) in December.
Presented by the Caribbean lifestyle website Largeup.com, the New York-Jamaica based reggae deejay collective Federation Sound and the reggae deejay/dance crew Rice and Peas in association with SummerStage, attendance at Chronixx’s Central Park show was undoubtedly buoyed by his Fallon appearance earlier in the week and the ensuing social media frenzy.
A capacity crowd of 5,500, including Mick Jagger and his three daughters, were in attendance, with an estimated 2,000 additional patrons unable to get inside Rumsey Playfield: some sat on rocks along the nearby bike path or stood on the surrounding hills to listen to the show while several other reggae enthusiasts were glimpsed climbing trees to secure aerial views of the stage.
“We have all been waiting for reggae to bounce back into the mainstream and get more support, so we wanted to showcase someone at that tipping point in their career,” said Rice and Peas founder Deejay Gravy, also a co-founder/publisher of Largeup.com. “Chronixx has won the people over because he doesn’t compromise the integrity of the messages in his music. He always has a positive and insightful take, a perspective all his own — that is what people are gravitating towards.”
The Central Park concert showcased a dramatic maturation in Chronixx’s performance abilities, which have been finely honed through nearly incessant touring since the spotlight initially shone on his talents in 2012 following the release of his debut EP Hooked on Chronixx (Zinc Fence Records) and the Start A Fyah mixtape, produced by Major Lazer’s Walshy Fire.
Chronixx’s confident delivery of his hit-filled repertoire, supported by the increasingly impressive Zinc Fence Redemption, made an instantaneous connection with the audience. Stirring renditions of the romantic ballad “Rain Music” and the acerbic commentary on fake friends, “Behind Curtain,” displayed an emotional depth and lyrical sophistication far beyond Chronixx’s 21 years.
Chronixx name-checked several reggae pioneers (Dennis Brown, Bob Marley, Junior Reid and his father, Chronicle) as well as his Jamaican contemporaries (Jah9, Jesse Royal, Protoje) as part of an ongoing endeavor to hold aloft reggae’s positive vibrations as Jamaican music seeks to reclaim a greater international profile.
“What we are doing is an evolution and elevation of what was there before,” Chronixx told Billboard.biz following another recent high-profile gig at Reggae Sumfest, Jamaica’s largest music festival held in Montego Bay on July 17-19. Sumfest 2014 also featured Wiz Khalifa, Jason DeRulo, Sean Paul and NBC’s The Voice season 5 winner Tessanne Chin. “These shows are important for us because reggae has developed in terms of talent and production, so I have no doubt it will manifest where people have a more upright view of it and its integrity will be regained.”