TRUE COLOURS: "It’s the message that counts," the artiste says of merging genres.
Chozenn couldn't have selected a more appropriate title for his debut EP than Rebirth, which he released this past January, to properly introduce himself to listeners. After getting his feet wet on the dancehall scene (he placed third on Magnum Kings & Queens in 2010), the twentysomething deejay (né Duane Besenti) made the life-changing decision to surrender to his Creator and embark on a spiritual path, while remaining true to his musical roots. He hasn't looked back since, and he couldn't feel more fulfilled with where life has taken him. Fresh from a mainstage stint at Reggae Sumfest (on Dancehall Night, no less) the talented up-and-comer brings TALLAWAH up to speed on his musical hustle and staying on message.
TALLAWAH: We see where contemporary Christian artistes are increasingly turning to other genres like dancehall and hip-hop to add flavour to their sound and to woo younger listeners. Is there a line you refuse to cross?
Chozenn: This is the way I look at it: it’s the message that counts. Reggae and dancehall is the backbone of our musical culture. It’s what I grew up on, and I’m still a big fan of dancehall. But the gospel must be preached, and the genre is not what counts. It’s about the message you’re delivering through the music.
TALLAWAH: Understood. But how challenging is it to merge both worlds – the spiritual and the secular?
Chozenn: It’s not a challenge. As a gospel artiste, I am open to all genres. I might be in the mood to record on a reggae riddim today, and then I come across a nice hip-hop beat or a praise-and-worship vibe. It’s where the Spirit leads. The aim is to always win lost souls for the kingdom.
TALLAWAH: How did you and Omari end up on the Reggae Sumfest mainstage on Dancehall Night, sharing the spotlight with Patexx?
Chozenn: We don’t have a long history together, but the Lord works in mysterious ways. [Patexx] called us up with the idea of having the two of us join him on the stage, and we made it happen. It’s a major win for gospel music because not one but two gospel artistes got to bring the message to the massive crowd at Sumfest this year.
TALLAWAH: What’s your story?
Chozenn: I was born in Clarendon, but I now live in Kingston. I’m a marketing professional by day. After I did Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall in 2010, I got saved and started my Christian ministry soon after that. I’d be ungrateful if I didn't say thanks for the support and the positive feedback I've received since I started this journey. I’m just hoping for more artistic growth and spiritual growth.
TALLAWAH: So how do you define yourself as an artiste?
Chozenn: I’m just a simple man. Chozenn is a spirit-led individual. I have a passion for Christ. It’s never about me. I will never flatter myself. It will always be about the music and the message.