In our quest to further map out OC's hip-hop scene, we return with another playlist! As our two top 10 rappers and top five femcee features zeroed in on solo acts, the Weekly now turns it attention to Juice County crews. Before compiling the post, we were jokingly asked, "Are there enough groups to make a top 10?" The resounding answer is: Yes! In fact, there's more than this format could fit entailing some painstaking omissions–again. And it would be even more overcrowded save for the fact that being in a group, hip-hop or otherwise, entails breakups, hiatuses, and changing rosters. It's good to know, though, that there are still some aspiring Wu-Tang Clan's out there in OC keeping the movement mashing. Check out the latest assembled sounds until we come back with more hip-hop listicle madness!
10. Cham Kerem de Santana
If Orange County can boast radical rap, Cham Kerem de Santana is the group behind the mic. Four activists joined forces to make music they're unapologetic in deeming as "low-budget revolutionary peoples hip hop." Every time La Pavis spits her Spanish rhymes, women in the crowd always react loudly to seeing a sister take center stage. Illoheem is a polished poet whose "I Still Have a Dream" spoken word piece on immigration was recently delivered to the Deporter-in-Chief Barack Obama himself! Ghost Dance and Ill Sal round out the quartet seeking a musical overthrow of the Lords of OC.
9. Sacred Blasphemy
Sacred Blasphemy are prophets in their own land. The trio of Anaheimer rhymers told gritty tales of impoverished barrios, police harassment, and street politics in the supposed 'happiest place on earth' before all those issues came to dominate headlines a year-and-a-half ago. Beyond the West Coast banger "Kings Are Back," the group's set of songs on The Radical Era are poignant dispatches from seasoned street reporters. Sacred Blasphemy drives their message home with Rinoe's forceful delivery, Chuco's raspy rhymes and Skandalouz's poetic urgency. With everyone out trying to get a piece of their city, the group remains the true voice of the Other Anaheim
If there's a group with the most potential to skip closer to the top–and fast–it's Salvajes. Currently, they're busy attentively putting the final touches on a forthcoming debut album. In the meantime, the mixtape sampler Salvajes dropped shows immense promise. Rappers IllNes, Mic Hempstead, Alpha Ready and JoEse Gloria already put on an infectious live show. They promise to salvage local hip-hop while reclaiming their savagery on the mic!
7. Pen Pals
What do you get when you put two accomplished solo OC rappers like C4mula and Brawdcast together in the mix? The answer comes in the form of Pen Pals. A dangerous duo that has attacked tracks since coming together in 2011, they have a definite creative chemistry. Just check out "Charms" with all its back-and-forth lyrical trade offs to see what we are talking about.
6. Parallel Crew
Parallel is a hip-hop crew from Anaheim that roles deep. The Anaheim-based music makers started doing their thing in 1998. MC's that have been a part of the parallel movement included Airborn, Deprave, Dope-1, Fatty B, Groove, Herrera, Holiq, Hyphen-Select, Jahs, Lawjik One and Wushu. Always backed by dope beats, they come correct with a multifaceted, multicultural and multi-everything approach! Parallel is readying the release of their next album No More Secrets along with a music video for "One Flow Left" so keep it tuned to the Weekly for more on the Juice Town crew in the future.
I&I all starts with the volatile chemistry of MCs Irawnik and Insanity. After forming in 2002, the group set out on a quest to kick out mix tapes and patchwork demos that eventually morphed into their debut album, 1:31 AM. Backed by the turntable prowess of DJ Kamoflag, they present a style that's simultaneously cerebral and savage. They keep verses sharp and energetic, often shedding light on society's ills and personal pitfalls bolstered by melodic boom-bappery.They match their flow with an ability to market themselves into an unlikely opening act for hip-hop greats, having supported Method Man, Cypress Hill, E-40, Talib Kweli and Snoop Dogg. They released their latest offering, the Boondock Saints mixtape, in 2013.
Speach Impediments took home OC Music Award honors for "Best Hip Hop Act" the past couple years and deservedly so. The Weekly has been chronicling their moves on the scene since way back in 2003. Speach Impediments conspire to bring that "714 flavor in your ear!" The group's 2012 album Cobwebs scored some dope features from the likes of 2Mex and Abstract Rude. They keep the culture grounded at live shows with the DJ as much in the mix as the MCs. That's when you know you're experiencing true hip-hop.
3. Locally Grown Collective
Locally Grown Collective splashed onto the scene with their 2012 summer We Are Locally Grown mixtape. Endz, DeeJaeBee and DaveAllen united their unique talents to create a powerful sound. Endz is as pure a rhymer as can found. DeeJaeBee flosses a booming baritone and staccato flow. DaveAllen brings woozy vocals and good time rhymes. Their live shows are energetic as fuck! Each member has been improving their talents with every solo and side project, so when Locally Grown Collective returns for a second harvest, the yield will be even more plentiful.
2. LD & Ariano
LD & Ariano brought the hip-hop scene some of the best in turntablism, vocals and rhymes over the years. The Technical Sound duo are on separate paths for now with LD linking up as the DJ for Sublime With Rome. No list would be complete without honoring their contributions to local indie hip-hop that started with A Thin Line in 2006. LD & Ariano took themselves to Rock the Bells, SXSW and countless other destinations every hip-hop act aspires to. When they sample Lauryn Hill's "I can do what you do, easy," on "Voodoo" it resonates, because LD & Ariano already have been there and done that. Ariano promised last summer that the duo would return soon after completing solo missions.
1. Innate & EP
Innate & EP hit on everything good hip-hop should be. The duo took time from Rock Bottom for a musical minute to drop Such As I, a relaxed full-length album that meshes golden age sounds with uplifting rhymes. The live instrumentation proves for smooth groves and cleverly crafted visuals released since have only served to deepen the mindful raps they've cultivated. As Bob Marley mentioned about good music hitting and taking away pain, bump this duo's offerings to see shit moods evaporate. Or better yet, catch Innate & EP open up for the classic hip-hop group Hieroglyphics at the Observatory on April 12 and see them do their thing live!