Strange Music. Started in 1999 and has not stopped it’s meteoric rise to being the number 1 Independent rap label in the world has been an amazing thing to see unfold in real-time.
I have been a huge fan of this record label since I was first introduced to Tech N9ne back in high school with the release of “Everready: The Religion” in 2006. With instant hits like “Caribou Lou”, “Welcome To The Midwest”, and “Riot Maker” I was hooked instantly. Since then I’ve grown to not only love Tech N9ne, but everyone else on his label, Strange Music. Enough back story, let’s dive into the party that was the “It Goes Up” Tour at the Worcester Palladium. This tour consisted of (obviously) Tech N9ne, his right-hand man: Krizz Kaliko, rapper Dax, ¡MAYDAY!, UBI of Ces Cru, and a local opener called Outland Camp.
I usually have to work the day leading up to a show but I was lucky enough to get the entire day off for this show. So I got there super early to beat the crowds and just enjoy the environment of the show. This being my 7th or 8th time seeing Tech I knew what I was in for, a nonstop party. Like I said, I’ve been following this label for a long time and have since actually become really good friends with many artists that were on this tour. Namely UBI of Ces Cru and all the members of ¡MAYDAY!, I’ve met Tech N9ne once at an Uno’s down the street from the Palladium years again as well. All of the artists on Strange Music and anyone that is lucky enough to be on a tour with Tech are always super appreciative of their fans and approachable.
Being there early I got good parking and set up “camp” a.k.a. Tailgating. These shows always have a rock/metal crowd mentality, as Tech N9ne has always had a super-wide appeal. Sorry, I’m rambling… now let’s dive in. Once the doors opened I ran downstairs to get to the photos pit to catch the opener, Outland Camp. Having only found out that these guys were opening the day before the show, I looked them up to get a feel for what they were about. Let me ask you something, are you a fan of the Beastie Boys and Wu-tang Clan? Then you’ll be right at home with these folks. I closed my eyes for a whole song of theirs after I was done shooting the set and thought I was transported to a Wu-tang show. For a local opener on a massive show like this, they had a huge crowd going for them. Granted, they could very well have more of a presence than I assumed they would, seeing as I only heard of them 24 hours prior. But either way, these guys killed it. Go check them out if you want modern-day flare with an old school vibe.
Next up was rapper Dax, who rose to fame through YouTube and remixes and his song “Cash Me Outside” went viral. A little bit of backstory on him if you aren’t familiar. Dax started his career as a janitor of all things after playing basketball in college for a number of years. The man’s work ethic doesn’t stop, ever. He walked on stage before anyone was even ready, no lights dimming or cut of sound for the venue. He was just super excited to be up on a huge stage and said: “I don’t want any of you to do anything except for a fucking blast for the next 30 minutes, you with me?!” Sounds about right for him if I do say so myself. Running through a ton of his songs that got him where he is today “My Last Words”, “No Cappin”, “Crackin On My Own”, “You Should’ve Known”, “I Did It First”, and “All Night Long”. All the while, praise his fans for giving him love and for helping him get to where he is now with no label backing him. He even paused his own show three separate times to dive into the audience to sign fans’ merch. Truly a new-age gentleman in the ever-changing world of rap.
After Dax got done with his set, we have the gentlemen of ¡MAYDAY! take the stage. I remember seeing these guys for the first time back in 2011 on the “All 6’s and 7’s” Tour back when no one really knew who they were. Things have definitely changed for the Miami boys since then, by a LONG shot. They easily had the most hyped crowd (aside from Tech, obviously), and you could tell that they felt at home, the last time the band was in the New England area was on their own headline tour was back in November of last year for their album “South of 5th”. They rolled through all kinds of hits from their entire discography. “Airplane Mode”, “New Blessings”, “Badlands”, “On That Jack”, “Stungun Stick Up”… I could go on and on. Not only is ¡MAYDAY! my favorite rap group, but Wrekonize is my favorite rapper. They closed out with their love letter to the fans “Shortcuts and Deadends”. Later on, after the show, I met up with ¡MAYDAY! to say “What’s up y’all?!” and Wrekonize gave me props saying that he was happy that I was able to rap along to every single song of their set while simultaneously shooting the whole set.
Once the smoke cleared (literally) from ¡MAYDAY! And their set, Mr. Ubi of Ces Cru a.k.a. Ubiquitous took the stage. This is something that I was very much looking forward to, as I’ve never seen Ubi do a solo show. I last saw him back in 2013 alongside his right-hand man, Godemis of Ces Cru. Who, despite being absent from the Strange Music camp for some time is still very much part of Ces Cru, as Ubi make very clear to the audience during his set, as well as when I met up with him after the show. Ces Cru is back y’all!! Seeing Ubi on stage with a mixer on stage with him and playing DJ for his own set while still being able to maintain his entire stage show really speaks to his prowess as a performer and an artist. About halfway the set a newcomer came on stage to perform with Ubi, an up and comer rapper by the name of Karma. Look out for him, for sure. Solid dude. Ubi killed it for his whole set, as expected.
The number one selling independent rapper in the world… TECH N9NE!!! That claim isn’t made up either, the man’s work ethic simply doesn’t quit, he’s been doing this non-stop for 20 years now. He flew onto the stage in his signature Kansas City Chiefs jersey and red Jordan’s. Alongside his musical brother and second-in-command, Krizz Kaliko, they truly ripped through a massive set of 20 years worth of music spanning this entire discography. The whole “Chopper” series, ‘Midwest Choppers/Worldwide Choppers/Worldwide Choppers 2’. “Riot Maker”, “Like I Ain’t”, “The Rain”, “E.B.A.H.”, “Erbody But Me”, “Hood Go Crazy”. Guys, seriously, if I were to list every song he and Krizz went through, you’d be here for a LONG time. Tech N9ne truly is a showman at heart, and one that really does appreciate his fans. After I put my camera away after my three song limit, I just hung out on the side of the photo pit and enjoyed the show. Heading towards the end of his set when Krizz Kaliko was singing the chorus to a song, Tech came over to me side stage and gave me daps and said “Thanks for coming out again, man! I like your work!” My nerd moment for the night. Closing out the set with “Hood Go Crazy” with all the acts having a dance party on stage during the song, it truly was a party to experience. If he’s in your area… GO! You will not regret it!
WORDS AND PHOTOS BY CHRIS SMALL