As a member of the punk-rap fusion outfit Terminally Ill, Ryan Risetter had plenty of experience playing and booking shows in Orange County. What he noticed, however, was the lack of hip-hop nights in the area. As fan of rap and punk music in addition to his experience of booking shows, Risetter saw an opening to feature underground rappers from OC who hadn’t had a specific place or forum to showcase their talents in a live setting.
“I felt like there wasn’t really a community of people getting together that knew each other and were going it,” he explains. “There needed to be something that brought us all together for at least one night even if it was for just one day per month. A lot of these guys don’t get out and are making shit in their rooms or basements, and only exists on the Internet.”
Risetter booked his first hip-hop show last August at the Yost. Before the show Risetter anxiously, yet confidently awaited to see if his vision of helping centralize the OC hip-hop scene would win over a curious audience. As he expected, the night went great. With Terminally Ill, C Formula and Chucky Chuck on the bill, the melding of hip-hop and punk went over extremely well with the vibrant crowd, proving to Risetter there was demand for this type of show.
The initial success of that night allowed Risetter to achieve his goal to make it a steady night. Instead of the Yost, Risetter got word from owner Mac McGarvey at the Doll Hut to bring the night to the club that became legendary for virtually every important punk band OC has ever produced. Having a relationship with the club through Terminally Ill, he’d been booking shows at the venue for some time.
“In addition to Terminally Ill, I started booking a lot of shows in general,” Risetter explains. “I started my own production company for the other shows that I book. Mac at the Doll Hut told me that I needed one night per month at the club that would become my next project. Instead of booking another punk show, I wanted to do something different that would be cool and have a new group of people coming through there.”
Now called Expanding OC Hip-Hop, Risetter has helped centralize the emerging scene. So far, he’s booked the likes of C4MULA, Chucky Chuck, New Ethics and Dirty Words. By bringing everyone together, at least for one night a month, the musician-come-promoter knew he had an opportunity to help foster a supportive for up-and-coming rappers who hadn’t the opportunity to perform live.
The success of the night turned Risetter the curator onto a number of new acts he’d never knew existed before.
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“Almost immediately, people who I didn't know would hit me up and wanted to be on the show,” he says incredulously. “People saw it online and started to tag me online to check out certain groups and it introduced me to new people pretty quickly.”
While he remains loyal to the original core, Risetter realizes that the Doll Hut’s stage has quickly become one of the most sought after slots in live local hip-hop. He has no trouble filling out the bill and is overwhelmed by the number of requests he has from local acts, including the emergence of Scandalous, who wasn’t on the promoter’s radar before his performance and parlayed a successful gig into a slot opening for Kurupt. Using that situation as a success story, Risetter insists if anyone is interested in performing, that they contact him directly.
“We’re starting to get a pretty good mix of genres within hip-hop now,” he says. “It’s pretty cool to see people do their first live performances and it’s a cool, stress-free environment where anyone can come out and do whatever they want.”
Expanding OC Hip-Hop at the Doll Hut is every third Wednesday of the month, 107 S. Adams St., Anaheim, www.worldfamousdh. $5 cover. 21+. See venue website for lineups.