By Kevin Vazquez
Orange County hip-hop may not have as much history as L.A. but the growing scene is beginning to pump out its own crop of young and talented rappers. Venues like Jaspers in Orange, The Observatory in Santa Ana and stores like GCS in Downtown Santa Ana host shows where local rappers can showcase OC’s growing hip-hop community. The artists are as diverse as the county.
Orange-based rapper Endz collaborates with Anaheim’s Locally Grown Collective, a group of local rappers and DJs. Although Endz started writing rhymes at age 13, he didn’t hit the stage until four years later. Describing his style as “honest, blunt and fun,” his new LP, LIVE FREE, represents all these ideas and more. With songs like Seven One Four and North OC, Endz’s songs paint a contrasting portrait against OC’s beaches, gated communities and McMansions.
In May, Endz and four other rappers will take their act on the road, hoping to become the scene’s unofficial ambassadors.
Illnes Infection spits clean, raw lyrics with a flow that hits the listener like a brick. Born and raised in Santa Ana, he uses both English and Spanish for his rhymes, touching on both political and social issues in his hometown. Lately he’s been a vocal critic of Downtown Santa Ana’s gentrification.
“Hip-hop has always been a way for people to escape the shackles of reality. Through hip-hop many worlds are possible,” Illnes says.
In addition to Illnes, is also founder of El Centro’s Elemental Xpression, an outreach program with the goal of nurturing the nascent hip-hop scene in the county.
On the other side of the spectrum, Matt Allenn’s ambitious brand of hip-hop aims to for mainstream success.
“I think we are in a good state, we have a lot talent waiting to be exposed, and a lot of dope artists that are grinding to put the county on,” Allenn said.
Allenn wants his music to go global, and to shell out radio-friendly hits with catchy hooks. High production songs like Murz and Rush have the same vibe as Wiz Khalifa’s songs. Allenn’s hype music is fitting for any night out. After a small hiatus due to personal issues, this rapper is ready to drop new music and hit the tour circuit.
OC is not only producing solo hip-hop acts. Cham Kerem from Santa Ana is a socially conscious group of four rappers armed with distinct lyrical chops.
The groups tell stories that Santaneros can relate to, hitting on topics such as immigration and police brutality. Cham Kerem fills another gap within the hip-hop community — they have one of the few local female rappers, La Pavis. She could influence a new generation of female MCs.