Jamaican reggae superstar Jamar McNaughton alias Chronixx was in Kenya for the fourth time and performed to a sold out crowd at KICC.
He sat down for a chat with Nation and talked about his tour, Grammy nomination, and why the word ‘weed’ to mean Cannabis is derogatory.
What do you take from what you do and what inspires your music?
For me, it is a blessing to be able to share the music that you have been inspired to make and I give thanks for it. I remember performing in Ethiopia; it was one of the few places that I was most surprised by the energy and the reception was magical.
Inspiration for my music comes from everywhere: life experiences, emotions, stories and social commentary on what people want to hear. Music is not about the artistes, they should be able to create ideas that represent how people feel and think. It is the only way people in Kenya can feel how people in Jamaica are feeling.
How was it performing at the famous Central Park in the US?
American late-night TV host Jimmy Fallon invited me to his show and it was my first time on national TV in America. My whole crew was grateful to have benefited from that platform.
Why did you choose Kenya as your only stop in Africa for your Chronology tour?
It was the much planning I managed to do, but we still have more shows in Africa for the rest of the year.
As a big fan of football, who were you supporting in the concluded FIFA World Cup?
My first prediction was that France would win, but I was not supporting any country. I had friends who were playing in the World Cup as well.
You have been nicknamed Cronndada, what does it mean?
Dada, which means our sister, and Chronixx combined; it just sounds good.
What were your thoughts after you found out you had been nominated for a Grammy?
Coming from where I’m coming from, it brought a lot of different feelings and thoughts; how it will affect the journey and story of how we started from a very young team in Jamaica to where we are now.
What has been the highlight of your career?
Performing in, and travelling across, Africa, always feels like I’m coming home. As youth in the Caribbean, we meditated about coming to Africa. We don’t know where exactly our ancestors came from and are still in search of the truth, and have to go all over the continent and somehow create a unity.
How has music impacted you and is your father proud of what you do?
It is natural to me; I have been performing since I was young. You realise how special it is, in today’s world, to be able to do something that comes naturally as your work and to a greater extent as your work also. I have never thought about it, but if I had a son who was like me, I would be very proud of him.
How do you still remain so humble after all this time, with what social media has become?
When it comes to social media I would say social media is social media and reality is reality.
How does it feel to get praised for what you do and do you have any plans to retire?
Music is our work and not a game, we take it seriously. This work is aligned to many destinies of our youth and a lot of other people. Because of that, we have to avoid being branded as children who grew up in the western hemisphere who do not have a positive recollection. You never retire, being an artiste, you transcend your ideas.
What is your take on dancehall music that objectifies women and what is Rastafarian to you?
I would pose that question to the woman who listens to it. It is a matter of what energy people buy into, people are making money out of it. You cannot tell someone not to feed his family. Rastafarian is a lifestyle. The almighty Haile Selassie, emperor of Ethiopia is what we reference to be the exemplary of how humanity could progress peacefully, and how we could have world citizenship. Something that is closer to God, that is what Rastafarian is.
What is your take on legalising “weed” in Kenya?
We keep talking about weed, to me that is derogatory. Weed is something that you pluck from the ground, but this is the single most useful herb on the face of the earth. It can create anything, from concrete to a cure for glaucoma. For us we are not asking the government to do anything, they have already failed. All we do is look inside for governance and for inspiration on how to move forward. We have good herbs and we should use them.
How does it make you feel working with your dad?
I have been working with him for a long time and he was the first artiste that I ever worked with. It was only natural. There was a period we did not work together as much, and in between there were little things that we had to learn about each other. He doesn’t like to practice as much and for me being an engineer I had to practice a lot, so we learned about each other a lot.