As Rebel Salute 2015 wrapped up last weekend, a handful of reggae artists who had performed at Jamaica’s biggest events over the holiday season are preparing to head to the United States for a number of tour dates. Chronixx, Kelissa, Keznamdi, Protoje, and Jah9 are all part of a new generation of reggae artists, who have versed themselves in the genre’s history and are creating new music with positive social messages that are once again inspired by Rastafari. The term “Reggae Revival” is somewhat misleading because from the 1970s forward reggae has produced a number of international icons and just as many hit singles, but what is unique about this new crop of young artists is that they are far less inclined to interject slackness into their music to sell records. Chronixx has previously said, “I have been developing a different love and appreciation for this thing called humanity and creation. Humanity is one of the greatest blessings and I would love if my music can help propel humanity into a brighter future.”
Additionally Protoje, whose real name is Oje Ken Ollivierre, is another reggae artist from St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, who has also captured international attention in the past few years. He has released two albums with a third on the way and a number of singles including “Who Knows?” featuring Chronixx that was one of the most popular reggae tracks in the United States this past summer. What is unique about Protoje is that he defines success as being able to create records that pull divine inspiration out of you as opposed to the number of spins a track gets on the radio. He is passionate about making music that is soulful and points out, “Some things you think are important can fail you. All that material success is not necessarily as important as we think…” It is this type of thinking that is going to make his upcoming Ancient Future project unique because he does not want the album to sound like it was recorded in 1980 at reggae’s peak. Part of his appeal is that he is open to collaboration with artists of all types and he is focused on building on the legacies of his predecessors as opposed to recreating what they have already done. His blueprint for making popular music is to make music that he feels will have a social impact and the rest is in the hands of Jah Rastafari.
Jah9 is another artist to emerge out of this new generation of reggae music and along with Kelissa she adds a distinctly feminine voice to a genre that has long been dominated by male icons. In September 1980 when Bob Marley played his last concert, followed by the untimely deaths of Peter Tosh, Jacob Miller, and Garnett Silk it became hard to imagine what reggae would look like in the future and what role women would play in it. By blending the soundscapes of classic American soul and jazz with traditional Jamaican dub, dancehall and reggae Jah9 has created something unique with her own distinct interpretation of how she wants modern Jamaican music to sound. Like Chronixx and Protoje, she is a well-versed student of reggae history, but she has also found her niche in Jamaica’s highly competitive music industry and her success is beginning to be reflected in international popularity.
All of the aforementioned artists have upcoming tour dates in the United States and while Chronixx and Protoje have a few West Coast dates that overlap, Jah9 will be bringing her unique “jazz on dub” style to the other side of the country. Her tour, which features the live band The Dub Treatment, will run from February 4th through the 8th and will stop in Raleigh, Washington D.C., Brooklyn, Stowe, VT, and Ashbury Park in New Jersey. Chronixx will be touring with the Zincfence Redemption Band along with Kelissa and her brother Keznamdi, and their tour will run from February 14th till March 1st and cover almost every major West Coast city. There are seven stops scheduled in California, a show in Vegas, Portland, Seattle and even a stop in Vancouver, B.C. Protoje will also be touring from February 13th till the 21st and will join Chronixx for his shows in Vegas, Ventura and Santa Ana.