Chronixx in Nairobi, Kenya
Chronixx – Nairobi’s Savior to the Reggae Culture.
I’m not really a reggae head or a fan so to say. I know a few reggae songs – when I say reggae, I don’t in any slightest sense mean dancehall, kindly – like the ones I used to listen to back in the days when I didn’t have the power to select my playlist or control the house remote.
You see, in African homesteads, there is a role bigger than being the head of the house. It’s the all almighty royalness of being the one and only remote controller in the house. This role is usually bestowed upon the head of the house, or the brightest child. What a blessing if you are THAT child. Just so you know, this is a more valuable title than being a Queen in England. The bearer of the remote dictated what programs you watched or which music you listened to. And anybody who controls the music you listen practically controls your life. For music is life. And it so happened that the bearer of my life’s remote was more leaned to Hip Hop, so that’s what I’ve grown up to. A bit of Chezidek or Richie Spice here and there but nothing of Gregory Isaacs caliber.
By the time I finally ascended to the almighty throne of remote controller, Hip Hop had become so much a part of my soul, leaving barely a room for other genres, let alone reggae. But as I grew up, I picked up elements of the genre from artists like Junior Gong and Morgan Heritage. By this time, the likes of Vybz Kartel and Konshens had sprout up and made the formerly righteous genre lean more towards dancehall and no, I am not a hater of Daggaring or twerking, but I have a good head on my shoulder and though I partake in sinsemilla every so often for recreational purposes, my consciousness doesn’t permit me to appreciate the current bread of dancehall music.
So when a friend hit me up to accompany him to the Chronixx show, I yielded mainly because I’ve been involved more in events planning and even handling some artists so I saw this as a perfect chance to experience how the pros do it – learning from the best, they call it. Likewise, the band I follow around so happens to play reggae music and thus has managed to allure me more and more to the genre. Up to now, I still maintain that they have the best reggae cover of Hotel California by the Eagles.
The venue to the Chronixx show was more than decent and the first thing that hit you when you got there was the set up. In my country, reggae is associated with more negativity than positivity so please understand my surprise when I arrived to find a multitude of jovial youths, so peaceful and just jamming to what the disc jockey was playing; roots and culture. From the onset, it’s hard to tell whether they are simply awed by the music, or it’s an after-effect of Maryjane because we all know the two go very well shoulder to shoulder. Hehee, I am not a snitch as Jah souljahs would say, I’m just an idler who reads too much into a situation.
We got to the venue at around 10:30pm and the party had already started. The musician I was accompanying, despite being one of the biggest artists in Kenya, opted to purchase the regular tickets instead of sitting at the VIP so we could mingle with the fans and maybe learn a thing or two. Let me tell you something, stoners are some of the coolest and wisest people to be around. You can never underestimate the power of the herb, bro. The show had commenced and one of Nairobi’s most celebrated reggae head, Jahmby was serenading the crowd performing covers and original material as well. There is something about a sister who is so righteous and in tune with the movement that I find irresistibly sexy. I hope that is not profane enough. At least they allow brothers to be appreciative of opposite genders, right?
The MCs (not sure if that’s still how they are referred to in the reggae circles) were so phenomenal in working up the crowd. They sang along and jammed to some of the greatest roots music. I know they were greatest because the crowd practically sang along, word for word.
Here is a confession, when I was told we would be attending a Chronixx concert, I googled some of his music, of course I listened to the popular ones to habituate myself with just who the artist is. Come on, don’t give me that look, we all do that. Don’t sit there and roll your eyes, judging a brother for wanting to feel part of the reggae family. Anyway, by the time I was heading to the concert, I heard established that he is the artist behind Here Comes Trouble! But more than that, I had finally ascertained the face behind one of favorite reggae jam, Don’t Give Up. With a few chanty slogans up my sleeves, I was ready for the man himself. Yah mahn.
When the Jamaican born deejay finally took to the stage at around midnight (don’t convict me if my time is incorrect, by midnight, I swear everyone was high) after his Zincfence Redemption band had finished setting up, the crowd went berserk. They screamed so much when he mentioned Nairobi that for a second I was about to get on my knee and worship, thinking this was the long awaited second coming of Messiah. And indeed it was, just on a different context. Chronixx has long been seen as the Messiah to Haile Selassie’s empire and this being his second visit to Kenya, well, adds the dots.
After a short and wonderfully applauded introduction, he went straight to the music where we witnessed a two hour nonstop top of the world performance. The only break I saw was when he went to remove his jacket before asking the eager crowd if they “ready to take it to anada lievel” to which they screamed a resounding YESIAH! I was mesmerized.
Standing there, I looked so at peace with the environment you’d swear I was born and bred consuming reggae music and my infant formula was laced with ganja. Little did the people around me know that I was just clutching my fist, waiting for the time he will belch out Aint No Giving In, the only song I knew some of its lyrics. From the looks on his face, Chronixx was relishing every moment of the concert. He was visibly joyous and appreciative of the crowds’ immense love and support. Never at any point did he summon a lady to go twerk on stage and for that, we give thanks and prays.
The best part of it all is how he saluted his band members on his closing track. That was just magical! Even better is the great review he left behind. Never in my opinion has a reggae artist given so much in a show that left nothing but fond memories and admiration from the general public. By the time I reported to work the following Monday, I was Chronixx’s self-appointed brand ambassador, blaring his conscious music in the office hallway. Everyone was passing by my desk asking, “Holly, have you just discovered him now, Chronixx?” To which I gladly answered, “Yes! Now watch me turn Rastafarian”
Chronixx, never give up, you won a new fan over. Maybe even more than one. Jah bless Reggae revival
– Holly Rahman, All Around Africa