Underground hip-hop is alive and thriving in OC. Anyone who tells you different, isn't listening or paying close enough attention! Last time, the Weekly brought you the top five female rappers in OC. This week, we return with their top ten counterparts–no easy task with the wealth of active talent we regrettably couldn't comprehensively cover. The overall scene is being propelled by a youth movement that, thankfully, shrugs off the corporate radio rap that surrounded their formative years and is anchored by veterans who've been doing their thing for a minute.
Take a listen to the various sounds from around "Juice County" in this list that includes everything from rap en español to raw street hip-hop, reppin' from Anaheim to San Clemente and beyond!
In OC, rockeros have long ruled the Spanish-language music scene for youngsters. But with hip-hop's rise, it's no surprise to see rap en español carving out its own space. It's there that Edifica has claimed his place.
When he's not spinning at a club near you as DJ Kaboom, Edifica flows en español. He's been doing so since the Wu-Tang flavored pro-immigrant anthem "Este es el Momento." Edifica's music never shies from political commentary and always uplifts with positive vibes. He'd shared the stage with talented rappers from across Latin America, including Cuba's super group Obsesión and Chile's Ana Tijoux!
Anaheim is OC's closest thing to having a Chocolate City to call its own, so it's no surprise that a number of MCs on this list hail from there. I first met Hotboi at A-Unique Barbershop in Anaheim where they played his cut "All Time High" off the iPod and where his CD is posted up above the entrance.
Hotboi is the most relaxed rhymer you'll find in the county. His smooth delivery is evident on "Disciple." Listen to enough of his music and you'll feel like your blunted on an 'all time high' yourself!
Critic is a dreadlocked MC thinking critical thoughts. Armed with smart raps and a willingness to experiment, he's one of OC's most innovate hip-hop artists.
Critic's monotone flow was layered over sometimes futuristic beats on songs off his debut Humble Beginnings. Following up with How Many Mics? the rapper ripped tracks like "Where It All Begins" with a more classic sound. That level of flexibility is part of what makes him a critic's choice!
7. Aliso Black
Aliso Black is mainstay of OC hip-hop hailing from south county. In addition to his rhymes, he hustled Sound Asylum nights at the late, great Detroit Bar and brought along C4mula and Kevin Parx to headline the Weekly's "Plugged Into Local" concert.
Now if you're not plugged into Black's music, "Bellicose" is a good place to start. Produced by Phaizrok, the track illustrates how the rapper goes in hard on the beat. Aliso Black knows how to organize a good hip-hop show and rock the stage that very same night, an indispensable hustle for the underground.
6. Emcee Classiq
Emcee Classiq is one of the hardest working rappers in OC today. He won't be denied, perfecting his craft and performing at shows with DJ Snoop, a pursuit that will reap its benefits.
The Weekly first spoke to Emcee Classiq when he released Cupid's Vices, a slickly produced concept album based on relationships. But we've been hip to him since he dropped The Interview. At times, listening to the rapper brings Kendrick Lamar to mind, and that's not a bad thing to say, not a bad thing at all.
Phora's got fans. Lots of them. They're all helping to elevate his music to higher platforms. And the rapper has many years ahead of him to get to where he wants to go. As part of the underground youth movement, Phora's still not old enough to buy a beer at a bar, but has growing audiences rhyming along to his bars.
Heard Mentality's Nuke Nuk'em checked out Phora live at the Observatory in the summer and had glowing words about the performance. The rapper was praised for his "poise, production quality, and of course tremendous skill." It sure doesn't hurt the cause when you've got the likes of Kev Brown droppin' a beat on "Lost Souls" for you, too.
If you ain't knowin', Moshpit is a flowin' Samoan straight from the Santa Ana Wasteland! Since rapping with his brother Bigryzn in Chiefsons, a group noted by the Weekly as 'Best Hip Hop' in 2011, the rhymer has been hard at work with Laboratory Confinement, his latest solo EP.
Just like back in the day when Moshpit would endlessly battle Bigryzn, he comes with a barrage of bars. There's no hooks needed here, only the rawest of street hip-hop for all the usos! Moshpit even finds a way to drop a Reggie reference on "SHITN ON MUTHAFAWKAS" warning half-steppers that they're "One step away / From appearing on the front page / on the OC Register." (Behind the pay wall, of course!)
3. Kevin Parx
Kevin Parx is Santa Ana's Mr. Big Shot. Backed by a dope production team, the rapper steps to the mic with the utmost confidence.
In due time, his trademark "Haa" grunt on tracks will definitely become a staple of OC hip-hop. Parx flossed his talents on Freethrows , a mixtape that's too polished from it songs to storytelling skits to even really be a mixtape. Bump it in your ride with the bass turned up and watch yourself become a Parxist!
2. Sage One
The future is bright for OC so long as it continues to produce young MCs the caliber of Sage One. The wisdom-seeking wordsmith is spirited, energetic and skilled in his delivery.
Sage One follows up his debut The Summertime EP with the newly released full-length Similar Soulz album. On there, you'll find songs like "The Working Man" that come on that head nod shit with rhymes wise beyond their years.
Since trading rhymes with fellow Orange rapper Rage on the anti-authority anthem "Cops" in 2009, Endz has been relentless. The MC possess the talent to kill any boom bap beat that comes across his way with a flawless flow on display.
Endz is broadening his rhyme pallet experimenting with different styles when coupled with his Locally Grown Collective group. As a solo rapper, his three most recent releases have all been distinct in showing an ability to churn out bangers as easily as exploring thematic depths. Endz is even going for a broader audience with his latest, Rimas en mi Mochila, an all-Spanish album! When all these elements coalesce, watch the fuck out!
Gabriel San Roman is from Anacrime. He’s a journalist, subversive historian and tallest Mexican in OC.