“This is the beautiful sound of reggae music from the island of Jamaica,” said Chronixx, standing before some 6,500 fans in Prospect Park at a BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn festival event on Saturday night. Backed by his six-piece Zincfence Redemption band, he presented one of his most popular songs, a lilting number called “Smile Jamaica,” as a call to arms in a cultural battle.
“Look amongst yourselves,” Chronixx, 24, told those in the crowd as they swayed in the night air waving cellphones, and red, green and gold banners. “You’ll see people from all different races, with all different color faces. And that in itself is the power of music.”
Forty years ago, there was little need to specify that a given song was Jamaican reggae. Today, however, the music popularized by artists like Bob Marley and Burning Spear has spread all over the planet. “Smile Jamaica,” for instance, was produced by Silly Walks Discotheque, a D.J. crew and production team in Hamburg, Germany, that specializes in pitch-perfect Jamaican-style music.
Mr. Konders added: “He understands the younger generation that’s into social media. He’ll come to town and sell 1,000 tickets without a flyer.”
Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records and credited with helping Bob Marley reach international acclaim, signed Chronixx to a publishing deal with his Blue Mountain Music company. “What got to me was his phrasing, how he sang and also his sense of timing,” he said, “which are two things you can’t really learn. You’re gifted with that.”
He compared Chronixx’s natural talents to those of Frank Sinatra: “When he would sing a song, he’d just move the song with his lyric, and in so doing you were kind of glued to the words. You heard every word he was saying. And in his own way, Chronixx is doing the same thing. As well as the music having its groove and everything, he flows above it with his voice. He’s special.”
Mr. Blackwell added that he had faith in Chronixx’s unconventional path. “Bob Marley didn’t have radio hits either,” he said. “He built up the following from the street, from the shows.” Mr. Blackwell called this approach “more solid,” noting: “A radio hit can be a flash-in-the-pan kind of thing. But you create a solid base when you do it with touring.”
Onstage in Brooklyn, Chronixx spoke of the spiritual power of reggae, referring to dancehall as “our church” and sound systems as having been created by God. Later in his set, he spoke of his goals for Jamaican music with equal fervor.
“We want to put reggae music back on the top of music again,” he said. “And I believe we can do that on this day, in 2017. All we want the people them do, just like how you support the hip-hop music that you love. Support the jazz music that you love. Go and buy some reggae music tonight. Seen? Listen some reggae music tonight. And put your music upon the top. What you say about that?”