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Back in 2017, my buddy sent me a random remix off of Youtube. It happened to be a remix of Tupac Shakur’s “Hit Em Up” by this rapper, Dax.  I reluctantly clicked the link.  I mean, “Hit Em Up” was a classic and those were some big ass shoes to fill.  But the next few minutes blew me away.  Rapped eloquently and crystal clear, the Canadian rapper from Ottawa laid down conscious yet combative lyrics over the track.  While borrowing his mannerisms and flow, Dax paid homage to the west coast legend as he absolutely killed the beat in one take that spanned three minutes and fifty-four seconds. 

While my first time seeing his work was “Hit Em Up”, he actually started blowing up a few months earlier when his “Cash Me Outside” video went viral.  Since then, Dax has been dropping covers and original music and has amassed a cult following online.  He’s used his music talents and social media skills to rack up 1.77 million subscribers on Youtube and 837k on Instagram.  Word was that Dax was coming to The Observatory, so I definitely wanted to see this internet sensation do the real thing on a real stage.

Opening up for Dax was an assortment of rappers and collectives from the local hip hop scene. Vistacaves, YBH, Energetik, Battani, and Prolix were some of the up and coming local talent who warmed up the Constellation Room for Dax.  The openers displayed a wide array of hip hop and the whole spectrum was covered. We had some ignorant hype style rap and also had some of the more conscious stuff too.  My personal favorite opener was CalenRaps.  I’ve never heard of CalenRaps before, but I found that his thoughtful lyricism and very real content captivated the audience.  He didn’t just rap to them, he shared personal tales of trials and tribulations and took communicated to the listener a personal level. CalenRaps was dope artist to lead right into the headliner, Dax.

Dax came put on a vibe which felt like a homie’s show in the backyard back when you were in high school.  Dax jumped into the crowd and performed some songs on the middle of the venue floor surrounded by fans.  Apart from the music, he also engaged the fans in other ways.  Throughout the set, you would see him pounding bottled water.  He spoke of the positives of drinking water while on tour so much that he even challenged a fan to water pounding contest.  To Dax’s misfortune, the fan actually beat Dax by a sizable margin.  Dax was a great sport about it and dropped to the floor of the stage to do his push-ups, which was a part of the wager.  Silly stuff aside, Dax played songs like “Dear God” and “She Cheated Again” amongst other  killer material.  He even broke out some of his unreleased material for the fans.

After the show, he jumped off stage and took photos with fans and signed their merch.  It really looked like Dax had a good time on Sunday evening in OC.  You could tell he really cared for his fans and was personally invested in making sure they had a good time as well.  Dax's music also really resonated in the venue and it’s no surprise that he’s amassed a bit of a cult following. When Dax plays a show near you, go check him out.  He’s a solid rapper, and even better person, and you don’t want to miss the opportunity to see him perform an intimate venue near you.

Kris Kuganathan

Photojournalist - Orange County

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