Sometime this spring, my Alt1033 Locals Only show co-host Oreo Jones turned to me after wrapping an airbreak and said, “I think I’m going to throw a hip-hop festival in Fountain Square. What do you think?” I thought – and still think – that is just about the best idea I’ve heard in a long time. Hip-hop in Indiana is so vital and interesting right now that a festival showcasing all kinds of it for a full day in the very walkable Fountain Square automatically shot to the top of my summer calendar. Even better? The event is a fundraiser for local music nonprofit Musical Family Tree, and there’s all-ages options all day. In the next few pages, you’ll learn what Chreece is all about, with a breakdown of artists and a full schedule hand drawn by local artist Lisa Berlin Jackson. We’ll let Jones take it from here.
— Katherine Coplen
I first glimpsed Indianapolis hip-hop culture in 2010. DJ Metrognome and company held a hip-hop summit at the Martin Luther King Jr. Service Center off Illinois. That day would be my first billed show as an artist playing my own set.
As I look back at the five years since that summit, it seems as if the entire city has evolved immensely – but nowhere more so than our flourishing hip-hop community. I’ve played all over the country since then and I can say with confidence that there is no place like home. Each side of the city has its own distinct flavor; from the Westside to the East, everyone is making their mark somehow or someway and contributing to Indianapolis hip-hop.
This winter I worked on a project with Sirius Blvck, and I romanced the idea of throwing a huge music festival. I have an annoying habit – like many of you – that propels me to constantly tackle a million projects that at first seem daunting, but eventually work themselves out. GhostGunSummer, a hip-hop collective I am a part of, played a show at Pizza King in Fountain Square, and I mentioned my idea to Jon Rogers, the executive director of Musical Family Tree. MFT is so significant to Indiana music that I wanted to take it a step further and create a vessel to stimulate some funds for their newly formed 501c3.
On that day in January we decided to move forward and start planning Chreece.
Chreece is a drunken portmanteau I accidentally created on my cooking show Let’s Do Lunch. I meant to toast Abbi Merris from Bluebeard, who was cooking that day on the show, and my brain could not decipher between peace and cheers. Thus, the word Chreece was born. It kind of spread like wildfire, and I decided it was the perfect title for such a celebration.
My intentions are to unify every emcee in the state and beyond to come together for a day of Cheers and Peace to Indiana hip-hop culture, everyone from the art rappers to the trappers, the experimental to the based, and the golden age. It is important that everyone knows how important and special hip-hop is in our state. From the afternoon to the evening there will be something for everyone to explore and enjoy, and Fountain Square is the perfect neighborhood because everything is within walking distance.
Chreece map artist Lisa Berlin Jackson is an artist, performer and operative in Indianapolis. Current projects include the dance academy punk 2-piece recital pageant HEN, the Fountain Square-based gallery, project space and concept shop General Public Collective, and the new formidable female/femme-centric performance series and promotional vehicle "Difficult Women" with Erin K. Drew.
Chreece Artist Breakdown
Adam Lukach broke down the whole lineup of Chreece for you, starting with the artists that close out each of the six venues, then proceeding alphabetically with the rest of the 60+ performers. Find what you like, then find their performance time on Lisa Berlin Jackson’s hand-drawn schedule. Many performers will pop up at multiple sets during the day, so keep your eyes open. Study this carefully – there’s a ton to do and see.
(closes out The Hi-Fi)
In recent years, Jenkins’ home city of Chicago has been best-known for its drill music, but this young emcee hails from another sect of Chicago hip-hop, a group of lyrically prodigious spitters who honed their craft at poetry open mics. This perhaps explains why Jenkins is something of an anti-hero in hip-hop, offering simple messages — like his “Drink More Water” mantra — that illuminate larger ideas and avoid indulging the genre’s usual hedonism. It’s Serious Music that doesn’t lose anything sonically, thanks to his jazzy influences and weed residue.
The Native Sun
(closes out White Rabbit Cabaret with Rusty Redenbacher, Mr. Kinetik, Rehema McNeil, Sonny Paradise and Feeray Carrera. Find their blurbs in following list)
That the Native Sun has put out just two studio releases during their almost 10 years together is a testament to their effort and craftsmanship. As a three-part hip-hop trio — drums, bass, emcee — putting together their work can take a bit longer, but it arms them with the power of performance. Thanks to their live instrumentation and comfort with one another, they can create a vivid, visceral sound both on wax and on stage. Drawing comparisons to the Roots feels too easy for a hip-hop band, but dammit if the musical abilities of B Meeks, B Young and Sleepy don’t evoke the same type of feelings, especially with their boom-bap foundation.
Show You Suck
(closes out Pizza King)
The name is misleading. Show You Suck’s music has little to do with how he values your character, and in fact, it largely promotes PMA, or Positive Mental Attitude, for everyone. See, Chicago doesn’t hate everybody. Show and his music are all about fun; every song sounds like a party, with bright sounds, absurd lyrics, and a myriad of pop culture influences. And pizza — lots of pizza.
(closes out Fountain Square Plaza)
The most eclectic headlining act, David Moose Adamson’s newest incarnation Sedcairn Archives plays with darker electronic pallets, favoring minimalist soundscapes that leave a ton of empty space for experimentation. It’s an interesting juxtaposition against their drums, which have a tendency to get pretty busy thanks to their juke and footwork influences, a trait that keeps their varied style sounding distinctly Midwest.
(closes out General Public Collective)
As both a rapper and a producer, Young’s handle on the entire creative process of his music feels something like a filmmakers’. Between his raspy voice and disconcerting use of synths — not to mention the fact that his name dots every facet of his song credits — the apt comparison feels like a young John Carpenter. He’s a master of creating atmosphere, and he spits confidently and methodically, never getting ahead of himself or the audience.
(closes out Joyful Noise)
There’s a thoughtfulness to EJAAZ’s work that’s evident as soon as his plainspoken lyrics hit your ears. He favors quiet production and soundscapes that are often stark and cold, full of empty space, and he warms up with his willingness for introspection and adaptable, melodic flow. He can go in or pull back, with an impressive handle on how to treat different beats and create diverse sounds.
Musical Family Tree compiled this massive playlist of Chreece artists' in their preview of the event. Read executive director Jon Rogers' take here.
A.G. Tha Pharoah
When Pharaoh touches down, he does so with a direct delivery that relies on emphasis and repetition to make an impact. It helps ground his taste for outer space, which shows up most noticeably in his beat selection.
Ace One & Nevi Moon
The rapper/producer combination of Ace One and Nevi Moon, respectively, hails from Strong Roots Records. Ace strives to bring heady concepts to his hip-hop which pairs nicely with Moon’s eerie goth dance production.
Rocking a denim vest, fanny pack and a commanding mustache/rat-tail combo, Andy D (with wife and musical partner Anna Vision at his side) is a fearless showman.
Beverly Bounce House
While BBH can sound almost Ben Stein-catatonic at times, it gives his rap a weirdly arresting directness that never feels too serious, offset by his sly jokes, loopy delivery, and an ‘80s production aesthetic.
Boss L basically does an incredible Juicy J impression, from the flow all the way to the pitched-down voice, and manages to distinguish himself by putting a low-key neurotic twist on the ignorant persona.
A quartet out of Muncie, Bored. sounds like a manifestation of the city’s seedier, stranger side, a style they’ve deemed “meth-hop.” Their lyrics and influences swerve between surreal and banal, all with a bent of purposeful unconvention.
No one can say Cas One doesn’t give it up in his lyrics, which are full of striking personal honesty and introspection.
A hip-hop duo from Indianapolis that owes a heavy debt to Aesop Rock, offering timely references with a message, delivered through a barking flow over samples and boom-bap drums.
The Comdot moved to Indianapolis from Charlotte and has recently come on the scene as an eager emcee with a hearty bellow and restless delivery, ideal for his traditional sonic tastes.
An artistic collective featuring a wide variety of musicians and other artists, Cut Camp will be breaking out their hip-hop side, with different groups of performances that run a gamut of styles to rock the party.
Peck can capably fill the roles of both hip-hop producer and trip-hop musician, and sometimes they wind up being the same role. He likes clap drums and loading up the lower end, but leaves enough middle ground for someone to ride the beat if they want to.
Deckademics is Indianapolis’s first and only school that teaches the craft of being a DJ, from in the club, to battling, to scratching, to spinning in the club and some of their students will be gracing the plaza with their spins and sounds.
Dom Heard ’em Say
Dom’s whole style is soft in the best possible way, from his smooth delivery to his fondness for velvety, 1000-thread-count beats.
Young Drayco McCoy has been known to get crazy, always talking shit and swerving recklessly through flows both intricate and ignorant. Trust that he is equally ready to roll up on something chill and let it burn slow.
Dylan Prevails will tackle any type of production style, no matter whether it’s from the coasts, the South, or the Midwest. He can get sinister or serene – but he leans toward sinister.
If there’s a trademark Indiana rap sound right now, Evansville beatsmith Ewokie Talkie has captured it, slathering dreamy synth-pop over Dilla drums with just a tinge of avant-garde instincts.
GhostGunSummer features several of the city’s most prolific and popular young rappers and producers who have been on tour together and helped foster Fountain Square’s recent rap surge. Features Chreece founder Oreo Jones, Sirius Blvck, John Stamps, Freddie Bunz and Grey Granite.
There’s no sound or beat so mighty mighty that Grxzz can’t muscle it with his gruff, weighty delivery, but he’s also shown the ability to finesse more ethereal sounds with the softer side of his songcraft as well.
This unbelievably mellow Indy producer has a knack for the cinematic — literally. Our personal favorite Otaku project is his 37-part beat tape dedicated to Coming To America.
Fiercely individual and extremely woke, Human has a clear-cut way of seeing and putting things, unafraid to speak on any topic with his firm delivery.
Indiana Chief & Blu That Bad MF
The pair is currently working on a collaborative project, which will surely include more of the pair’s hazy-yet-aspirational stonerisms, just as concerned with crumbling herb as stacking paper.
A producer who helped co-found Strong Roots Records, Iris’ debut tape unexpectedly became one of the label’s most-downloaded efforts, thanks to its bright sounds, varied instrumentation and hip-hop sensibilities.
Bayne started out in Indianapolis, moved to California, then returned with a vengeance, Jaecyn Bayne has done everything (including the big label circuit) plus developed an assaultive, rat-a-tat flow that underscores his taste for riffing on traditional conceits.
It’s impossible to listen to the drums and soul samples in Jawnski’s productions and not think of J. Dilla, but he’s a deft beatmaker in his own right, and his instrumental tapes can leave you feeling fuller than most mixtapes.
Drenched in reverb and rocking a methodical flow, Braxton is more concerned with fostering atmosphere and feelings than hard-and-fast #bars.
Ke’Ondris has a rapid flow that can dominate a first impression, but he’s got other assets too, armed with a great ear for hooks and some very wavy beats.
Comprised of three Indiana rappers — Ricky Freezer, BPZ, and Spacedad — KOBRA KAI sounds more down South than Indiana, partial to the Zaytoven-style keyboard sounds of the ‘00s, goofy song conceits, and heavy, rhythm-driven flows
Eric Brown’s various projects (Audio Record / Mad Lab / Echomaker) are avant garde experiments that currently twist their way into new project Lost Cult.
Another Dilla-influenced producer, ManDog understands the power of stilted drums and uses them to dramatic effect, to the point that they might make you motion-sick. That’s meant in a good way.
Formerly known as Yung Tone, Maxie has an elastic style that he can pull on or snap back into place, adding tension to the weight of the words in his verses.
Merc Versus is a classic. Like many traditional emcees, he stays in a straight line on the track, with a penchant for dusty boom-bap beats and unwavering bars that have something to say.
Florida emcee MF GOON is largely inspired by Detroit’s Bruiser Brigade; he never seems to spit the same way twice, living up to his namesake and going goofy in ways that somehow both juxtapose and suit his preference for minimalist bizarro beats.
Formerly an acoustic singer-songwriter, Molly June still does her own hooks, but has otherwise veered far away from that style, sporting a fleet flow that typically skates across modern EDM-style production.
Whether it’s in the studio, on the boards, or behind the mic, Mr. Kinetik is an Indy hip-hop veteran, powered by funk, jazz, and soul influences that spawn a bevy of different sounds.
Dirt has been kind of an enigma during his short time on the scene, and although his body of work is small, it’s potent: laden with dark, ambient sonics and punctuated by his gravelly drawl.
Nathan Arizona, a.k.a. the Loud Stankin Caucasian, has a deliberate delivery that thrives on its brevity and is equal parts dry humor and hyperbole.
New Wave Collective
A collection of three Indianapolis emcees, Don Chambers, J-Ice, Fre$co are sure-handed emcees capable of laying down their slippery rhymes over several different styles, often anchored with a catchy sample.
Nick Nice & Petey Boy
Nick Nice has developed an urgency and intensity to his delivery while still keeping his obscure allusions, and Petey Boy’s more traditional self-promotion and braggadocio should be a fun complement.
OK NOW! always has a story to tell, which is good, because he speaks his mind well, building on clear ideas throughout his verses with a tight, efficient flow.
There’s a bit of an absurdist tilt to Poindexter, who twists his high-strung delivery in unexpected ways that carve up traditional beats and sounds into something intensely undulating and kinda wild.
Pope Adrian Bless
When Pope Bless preaches on the track, it’s hard not to listen. He raps in a low baritone that demands your attention, while his sharp delivery and rugged street rhymes will keep it.
In the decade-plus that Psalm One has been rapping, she proved herself borderless as an artist, one whose open creativity has produced countless diverse projects with many different collaborators, in part because she can spit with anybody.
R-Juna has a through-and-through underground style. He makes virtually all of his own beats and aims to send a message with his topical, philosophical lyricism.
One of the city’s best-known hip-hop ambassadors for a long time, Redenbacher pretty much can and has done it all in the Naptown music scene. When it comes to rocking the mic, he keeps his style old school with a strong delivery and rhyme structure.
From the Eastside of Indianapolis, Shadow Village is an “open artist coalition” who gravitate toward dark, murky production and wild lyricism with unexpected turns. Features Luke Hazel, iIIus, John Trimpe, Tone J and Ashes the Bull.
Sonny Paradise & Feeray Carrera
Sonny (Son of Thought) put out Black Marvel Soul Series Beat Tape, a collection of boom-bap tracks “dedicated to graffiti writers all over the globe” in April; he’ll play with Feeray, whose Broke Street Billionaire$ tape is hot, hot, hot.
Stakzilla currently hails from Bloomington, a big-voiced emcee with a larger-than-life persona and indiscriminate taste for beats and song conceits, giving him an vibrant, unpredictable sound that can twist on a dime.
Strong Roots All Stars
Strong Roots is one of Indiana’s premiere independent hip-hop labels, and they showcase their talented, eclectic roster with this collective of label all-stars.
Another musical collective from the Nap, Team Green consists of several different artists whose tastes gravitate toward experimental electronica, laced with a variety of rhymes from versatile emcees.
Most singable anthem from Teddy Panzer’s standout single “Seven Stacks”? “Life’s hard so death’s better be simple.” We also hear he produced a couple songs on Chreece founder Oreo Jones’ upcoming record Cash 4 Gold.
The Klinik & Major Tom
Producer/emcee and Strong Roots Records’ rep The Klinik will perform with DJ Tomazaki just a week after his spot at the #JBBB7.
Tony Styxx loves to help Indianapolis, whether he’s donating his spare time or showing love behind the mic, where he’s a dope, limitless spoken-word artist whose ability to eat a beat should not be underestimated.
Knapp’s productions are like miniature vacations, with influences from all over the world that, thanks to their lush sounds, feel like a nudge to get away — before the boom-bap drums drop, then you’re back home.
An ultra-aggressive hip-hop group out of Warsaw, UpShott’s unrestrained intensity will almost literally bend your ear to take a listen, spitting passionately over big drums and “trap” sounds that’s a crazy live performance.
Xei the Ghost
Xei’s authoritative, straight-ahead delivery borders on spoken-word-style, and it provides an almost palpable anchor against his ambient, fluttering soundscapes.