Tuesday, 24 June 2014

CHINO'S HAPPY PLACE: The music star on bouncing back — and a game-changing collaboration

MAKE ME A SANDWICH: Posing with a bevy of beauties inside the SportsMax Zone on Saturday.

If you're not careful, to sit down with Chino McGregor for an interview these days could amount to engaging in a round of small talk while a giant pink elephant squats in front of you: the much-publicized collapse of his much-publicized relationships with former Miss Universe runner-up Yendi Phillipps. So when the reggae-dancehall star professes that these days he's "in a happy place," your curiosity is aroused. But when he proceeds to make mention of the megaprojects he has in the works, including the potentially blockbuster collaborative album he's releasing with his brother Stephen 'Di Genius' McGregor in September, let's just say things finally get interesting. 

As Chino tells it, with the joint record (cleverly titled GMTA for Great Minds Think Alike), their ambition is to achieve a tour-de-force along the lines of Nas and Damian Marley's Distant Relatives. "It's definitely something outside of the box in terms of the production, and the whole approach and concept of the album," he explains. "I think it's gonna be one of those game-changers." What's more, the brothers believe the timing is perfect. And the project was chiefly the superproducer's idea. "Stephen and I have been collaborating for years now. From the first song we did together called "I Know" in 2007, and then we did songs like "Protected", and the list goes on and on," Chino recalls, "people were always hinting that we should do a full-length album together. The time is right and I'm pretty excited about it." 

Sitting in the VIP Lounge of the SportsMax Zone on Hope Road, Chino is catching his breath after just rocking the stage with a half-time performance for the Argentina/Iran showdown. "It was a great vibe," he says simply. He's a Brazil supporter, he tells me, and his money is on the South American kingpins to take the gold on home turf come July 13. 

As for his professional endeavours of late, he has planned a US tour for later this summer. But prior to that, the captain of the Big Ship, dad Freddie McGregor, is being honoured at Reggae Sumfest. For Chino, it's a grand occasion he has to be a part of, especially with his iconic father being so deserving of the recognition. "It's great when you put in the work over the years and you get honoured for it while you're still alive and in your own country," he says. "So I'm looking forward to it. 

A dad himself, the 32-year-old entertainer insists the kids are all right. "Family life is good. Being a dad is nothing new to me, and I try as much as possible to strike that perfect balance between career and family life." And what about life after Miss Phillipps? Is he a single man these days? "Ummmmm." He pauses for effect. "Put it this way: I won't say yes and I won't say no, but I'm in a happy place," he concedes. "I can say that." Fair enough. 

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