Every August Indianapolis brings Chreece to Fountain Square, and there’s quite honestly nothing like it. The hip-hop festival always does a fine job of bringing on some fairly big names (this past year saw famed conscious rapper Talib Kweli headline the fifth annual fest), but what makes Chreece so special and unique to other festivals is the vast array of local acts that make an appearance. So it’s really no surprise that so many of the city’s top tier hip-hop artists got the opportunity to perform this year. After all, in many ways, that’s what Chreece is all about.
All of the following are artists whose sets I had the privilege of witnessing firsthand, and while there were many other noteworthy artists I observed making noise throughout the day (and well into the night also), I wanted to feature just a few who either really stood out to me and/or released new music in the month or so leading up to the festival. All of the tracks featured here were also performed at some capacity during each of the respective artists’ Chreece 5 sets. Oh, and just a forewarning: they’re all bangers, so I hope you’re not sick of seeing that word thrown around.
Feeray – “Friends” (featuring Sonny Paradise): Feeray just dropped what very well may end up my hip-hop album of the year. There’s an old-school vibe throughout much of More Than Enough, and this is perhaps most true on the melodic, mid-tempo banger “Friends.” From the song’s recurring flute line and Feeray’s phenomenal wordplay to the reggae-esque vocal lick and even fellow veteran Sonny Paradise lending a hand on the chorus, “Friends” is the strongest track on the entire record, and I would argue one of its most accessible cuts as well.
John Stamps – “Like That”: Frequent collaborators and former bandmates John Stamps and Sirius Blvck brought easily one of the most “lit” sets from this year’s lineup, together roaring through each other’s songs and simply bringing the ruckus overall. Stamps in particular was moving about the stage like an animal, and the opener from his latest EP Dark Age effortlessly encapsulates that same hard-hitting, carefree energy. “Like That” is a fun, guitar-laden trap tune that rocks just as easily as it hypes things up while Stamps’ unique sung delivery puts mumble rappers to shame. Get to know John Stamps; trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
DisTinct – “Beneficial” (featuring Rhetoryk & Blxck Kxng): Is this a DisTinct cut or a 3rd4Low squad track? Although “Beneficial” could fit just as easily in DisTinct’s personal repertoire, the bouncy banger boasts contributions from elusive fellow 3rd members Rhetoryk and Blxck Kxng, who both provide verses far too pivotal to the song to count them off as simple features. The result is a truly collective effort that is both contemplative and melodic, the latter of which has become rather characteristic of DisTinct’s other material.
Baby Ebony – “Baby Hottie”: After dropping his 3-song L.O.M.M. EP back in May, Baby Ebony is back with yet another heater (pun very much intended). No doubt, “Baby Hottie” goes hard, but there’s an almost orchestral-like undercurrent to the song’s beat that really adds to its staying power. Tack on the sing-along tendencies of the hook, and it’s yet another reason why Baby Ebony is one of the fastest-rising talents out of Indianapolis. Sources have informed me that he has another project of some sort coming very soon, so be sure to keep an eye out for that.
Sadly I was unable to catch the sets of everyone I was hoping to see, and there were also a few artists I did catch that just released new music after the fact, some of which wasn’t even performed. Needless to say, this may not be the last you see about Chreece 5. In the meantime, you can find all of my Hoosier picks in one place, whether you use SoundCloud or Spotify. Each has its own set of exclusives and is updated monthly. Be sure to go follow the playlist if you like what you hear; also, feel free to let me know of any up-and-coming Hoosiers you think I should feature for September.