“The Juice” Looks to Bring New Life to DTSA Hip-Hop

A new weekly series of shows is coming to Downtown Santa Ana, and it’s looking to bring some new juice to DTSA’s hip-hop scene.

Handfuls of the most prominent names in SoCal underground rap music will be getting together to host The Juice every Thursday night at Underground DTSA. But rather than creating the same experience week in and week out, the local music and art-based groups will be rotating events, meaning each promotion will get to display their own talents once every two months.

From Santa Ana’s own Konsept Art Collective and Forever Living As Winners to Long Beach’s Tall Robot and LA’s FaShogun, The Juice will be bringing everything from hip-hop showcases to rap battles to creative networking events to DTSA beginning this Thursday, April 7.

“I wanted to get the hottest people doing things in OC and some of the people doing things in LA, IE, and Long Beach to do a series of different hip-hop events,” says Tyson Pruong, founder of Konsept. “We’re not just going to have local people involved. There’s going to be big headliners, music seminars, launch parties, beat nights, everything is going to be a little bit different.”

As Pruong sees it, The Juice fills the void in Santa Ana’s hip-hop scene between the small local shows and the major performances going on at the Observatory. It’ll be bigger and more organized than a random bill put together for a local bar, but won’t cost the artists any money (unlike opening a big show at a larger venue).

“I’m trying to create a higher standard for shows in Santa Ana so that all of the people who are having shows will do a better job of creating a scene and bringing out bigger acts,” Pruong says. “There are only two levels of shows right now, really mediocre shows and really good shows. It’s hard to get on those really good shows, and there’s no one in the middle where you can have a headliner, but then also have some artists who are trying to become known unless you do pay-to-play at the Observatory.”

But while Santa Ana may be hard-pressed to find solid local rap shows, areas of LA are saturated with them. Bringing in Los Angeles-based partners like FaShogun gives the hip-hop heads of OC a taste of what the city to the north is offering without having to leave their hometown. After all, possibly seeing the next Kendrick is a whole lot more appealing without the hour-long drive.

“It’s about bringing people in and providing the opportunities for people to enjoy themselves,” says Rathana Sar, head of FaShogun. “There’s a lot of talent in Southern California, so I want to bring people from LA and Long Beach and all over to give people in Santa Ana the opportunity to hear new artists. It’s a night for artists and fans to get to know each other.”

The Juice isn’t designed just for the fans and artists performing that night. Over the course of the first two months, there are already multiple nights planned for events in which the performances will merely be a part of everything going on. One such example is Tall Robot’s night on May 19, when the Long Beach-based promotion company will be pushing industry folks from all backgrounds and locations to get to know each other.

“Long Beach is like a border town between OC and LA, so we want to bring people from both sides together,” says Rene Francois, founder of Tall Robot. “Tall Robot is all about showcasing artists, but also providing a space dedicated for creatives to network with each other. Whether you need a photographer or a videographer or a bassist for your band, it’s an event where you can find all of that. We’re all trying to bring back that kind of buzz down here.”

It’s ultimately that diversity of events that The Juice’s founders hope keeps people interested week after week. As the head of OC’s battle rap league, The Riot, Kevin “Westside Kev” Parx knows Santa Ana hip-hop as well as anyone. He’ll be hosting the launch party for his brand new all-encompassing Forever Living As Winners project on May 5, and he knows that the city’s DIY attitude could help it grow into a rap music metropolis if given a push in the right direction.

“There’s so much talent in (Santa Ana’s) hip-hop community, but there’s not too much organization,” Parx says. “Nobody in Santa Ana has written the book on how to do it in this city, because it’s all still happening. I’m just glad to be a part of it.”

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