The 2018 Grammys will take place in New York, USA, on January 28, 2018 and all eyes are on the Reggae category. Overall, it has been a great year for reggae music, and for many artistes, like Sizzla and Charlie Blacks, who have both been on record-breaking projects. There are also reggae-inspired songs on the top projects of the year in other Grammy categories, including Bam on Jay-Z's 4:44, which is up for album of the year.
The nominations for the Grammys this year in the reggae category include Damian Marley's Stony Hill, Morgan Heritage's Avrakadabra, Chronology by Chronixx, J Boog's Wash House Ting, and Common Kings' Lost in Paradise. All the nominees should be congratulated for their efforts, but one artiste among the nominees had an outstanding year overall.
The Grammys has a process of selecting nominees and a process for selecting the winner. Over the years, including last year when Ziggy Marley won, the winners are selected contrary to the popular sentiment in the reggae community. In some industry circles it is believed that if a Marley is up for a Grammy, no matter who else is in the category, the family member will win. Whether this is true or not, the Grammys' voting process is available for every eligible artiste to campaign and participate.
I've had the opportunity to listen to all the albums, and my personal voter's pick for the win is Chronixx's Chronology. Here are my top five reasons eligible Grammy voters should pick Chronixx for the should win:
1) Reggae deserves a fresh new international hero to represent Generation Y.
At just 23, Chronixx has won the minds and hearts of hundreds of thousands in a short space of time with his music. With the absence of Buju Banton, he has risen to represent and be the leading voice of this young, vibrant and positive Generation Y. His mystique and unique melodies have caused him to stand out among his peers with effortless celebrity. A win for him would satiate the souls of those who revere his music and cry at his concerts.
Great awards and award shows are marked by their ability to make and facilitate history and be relevant to each generation. The Generation Ys are marked by their independent thinking and, if Chronixx should win, it would be the first independent album in the reggae category to win a Grammy.
2) Chronixx did everything right in 2017.
Chronixx took a break from performances in Jamaica to complete and release his debut album Chronology. He then embarked on a multi-city American tour. He performed multiple dates with the likes of Lauryn Hill and hip hop superstar Nas, who incidentally has never won a Grammy. Chronixx brought his tour to Jamaica for two dates and was the first artiste in Jamaica's history to sell out all the tickets before the event. Suffice it to say, both shows have become the new standard for Jamaican artistes to represent themselves on stage shows.
3) Chronology is well put together.
The Chronology album gets better after every listen. With his signature melodies, Chronixx massages the tracks effortlessly from start to finish. Additionally, unlike the other nominees, this is Chronixx's debut album. It is evident that Chronixx has been practising and implementing vocal and rhythmic technique into his art. That translated into a sonically pleasing sound throughout the album and in his stage performance.
4) The Marley elephant in the room.
The Marleys have the most organised company and network in reggae music. It is the only reggae brand with a full marketing and brand management team working to build the brand in multiple ventures daily. There is therefore no question why they also have the most Grammy awards as a family.
Damian Marley is a beneficiary of that brand. He is Chronixx's main competitor artistically and organisationally among the nominees in the category because winning the Grammys takes organisation and voting. The younger Marley himself has won several deserving Grammys in the past. Another one on his shelf will do less for his career than a win for Chronology would do for Chronixx's career at this time.
If the Grammy award does nothing else for Chronixx it would offer improved public perception to the reggae artiste. Chronixx would see a much-needed increase in his international profile. Damian Marley was already rewarded with this luxury of perception. This win for Chronixx introduces him as Grammy award-winning artistes forever and he would be respected as such in the international music industry.
5) Time to push the culture forward.
In order for the music to live on, there must be respectful acknowledgement of the ancestors and the passing of the baton to the next generation. For years reggae music has been synonymous with Bob Marley and his legacy alone. Bob Marley's legacy will live on, but it is time for the Grammy voters and lobbyists to recognise other heroes in the genre. Pushing the culture forward means recognising new artistes. The Grammy voters must know and embrace the idea that the same country from which Bob Marley made his music has turned out many other great musicians.
Chronixx's rise in the upper echelons of musical achievement will be beneficial to his peers as well as his competitors.
The recording academy is yet to acknowledge the new generation of reggae revivalists like Jah 9, No-Maddz, Protoje, or Jesse Royal. Honouring Chronixx with a Grammy is honouring the future of reggae music in its most authentic form, and setting the precedence for recognising excellence in reggae music outside of the status quo.
High and honourable credit should be given to Damian Marley for the excellent work he has done over the years with his music and for his latest album, Stony Hill. It is a good album, but the truth is reggae music has been less than impressive with consistent sales and the profile of the artistes and hits when compared to other genres on the world's stage are pale.
Chronixx represents a change in that dynamic as the most important person in reggae music right now. His win represents something much bigger than for himself or his family. A win will place more international attention on the young Spanish Town native from the major music markets.
Marley lovers will always buy and listen to reggae music, but If it were not for Chronixx and the other young reggae revivalists, perhaps reggae would only have Marley fans. Can you imagine a world in which hip hop only has Jay-Z fans? The music can only get bigger when other people are included in the upper echelons through merit.
Chonixx has earned his space in this time. In the past couple of years we have seen individuals rebrand reggae and dancehall as tropical house, hoping to gentrify the genre or make it obsolete. The Grammys got it wrong many times before and they now have the opportunity to get it right with Chronixx. Evidently he is not a Marley, but he is doing the most important work to extend reggae music to youth culture and move Rastafari forward in this time, and he deserves to win the Reggae Grammy on behalf of the culture.