The Indianapolis rap scene and its biggest rap festival have grown hand in hand the past three years. As Chreece, the brainchild of Indianapolis emcee Oreo Jones and Indiana music archive Musical Family Tree, has gained confidence and experience, so too have local artists.
Chreece 3 was the culmination of a year of high expectations. This time last year, Chreece II rocked Fountain Square late into the night. Chreece 3 had high expectations after the tremendous success of Chreece II. To give the people what they deserved, Oreo Jones and company recruited some of the Midwest’s best female artists for the festival on Saturday, August 26th.
The first of them to perform was Indy’s own Allison Victoria at Square Cat Vinyl. The small venue and early hour made for a docile crowd, but Allison was having none of that. To get the blood pumping for her onlookers, she rapped to the beat of their clapping hands. Her talents didn’t end there, as she sang a beautiful chorus on her next song. She was then joined on stage by Kyro the Artist and Charell the Dope.
What they sang and rapped about embodied the goal of Chreece, spreading love, positivity, and acceptance. In these turbulent times, Kyro took things a step further with his lyrics and spoke about racism in America. His performance sent the crowd wild, all appreciative of the words he was unabashed to utter.
“He has an album out right now that I push like it’s my own. That’s how powerful it is,” Allison said of Kyro the Artist’s talents. “When I first heard his project, I knew I had to be a part of it. We all believe in the same thing, the same messages, using your platform for power.”
The powerful messages did not stop when Allison Victoria and the trio left the stage. Next up was another Indianapolis rapper, Rhetoryk. Much like those that performed before him, Rhetoryk seemed to say the perfect thing every verse. He told a love story with his track “Guardian Angel.” That song was followed by a hard-hitting song from the perspective of his drug-addict father.
“I’m trying to tell my story as best as I can to relate to other people,” Rhetoryk said of who he aims his lyrics towards. “Growing up I listened to artists like NAS, Eminem and Tupac. They got really vulnerable with their music and would tell stories that I could relate to. It was one of the ways I really felt like I had an outlet and escape in my life. I want to give that to somebody.”
Rhetoryk was followed up by the Knot Bros. Their name is much less complex than their music style. With the incorporation of an electric guitar, drums, autotune, and everything in between, the Knot Bros had a sound that was unquestionably theirs.
Next was Sonny Paradise, and Sonny took the Square Cat Vinyl way back, back to the nineties. His sound was reminiscent of Rhetoryk’s influences. With live drums, piano, saxophone, and trumpet, the vibe they created was soothing.
“I’m 38,” Sonny said about his chill music. “I make contemporary hip hop, not so much in your face. The content has to be on the level that I grew up with.”
Sonny and those playing instruments with him only rehearsed once before their performance Saturday. Their performance was spotless, it seemed as though they had been playing together forever. Their professionalism and talent made for a relaxing 20 minutes of reminiscence.
That was until Double A took the mic. The young Indy rapper took the chill vibe and heated it up. The small vinyl store was the loudest it had been that day. Double A had an obvious following as many of the fans yelled the lyrics with him as he went. He was adamant about getting the crowd involved, encouraging them to dance, sing, and get wild with him. And they were not afraid to take him up on his offer. While things got hype, it was all in good fun. Double A was quick to shake a fans hand and thank them for listening, continuing the tradition of artist and fan love at Chreece.
Indianapolis rapper Scotty Apex was up next at the Hoosier Dome. He’s been with Chreece since the beginning, performing at all three events. He delivered something for everyone in his 20-minute performance. Though he is known for his chill music, he encouraged the crowd to bounce with him. His upbeat songs got the crowd riled up and they jumped and showed their love. After starting off hot, Scotty slowed it back down with his melodic tunes. These songs are what he feels he does best.
“I put real emotion in my shit man,” Scotty said. “Every time I suffer, my escape is my music. It’s real, raw emotion that I put into it. If it relates to somebody and I have a story that somebody can relate to, that’s what I want them to connect to and not feel as alone through their journey.”
Chreece again did what it set out to do three years ago. They staged an event for the community to grow and love together. For artists and fans alike, it was nothing but smiles. With Oreo Jones stepping down from his leadership role in the event, Chreece fans hope that Sirius Blvck and J. Brookins can keep the festival alive and well. After the success of Chreece 3, there’s no reason Indianapolis wouldn’t accept more with open arms.