SANTA ANA — A Mission Viejo promoter has plans for an eight-hour concert at Santa Ana Stadium that will be dominated by rap music, a style that has been only marginally represented at major Orange County venues since violence broke out more than 19 months ago at a rap concert in Anaheim.
The "Summer Jam '92" show is scheduled for Aug. 22 at the 12,000-capacity, city-owned stadium, with a roster that includes the groups Cypress Hill, Kid Frost, Technotronic, Black Sheep, Fu-Schnickens, A Lighter Shade of Brown, Street Mentality and A.L.T. & the Lost Civilization.
Promoter Carlos Quintanilla says he hopes a successful concert can help remove what he considers an unfair "stigma attached to rap, that it's very wild and it's not a safe thing."
Rap shows had been featured frequently at the Celebrity Theatre in Anaheim until Dec. 27, 1990, when a show headlined by Ice Cube, a "hard core" rapper whose songs emphasize themes of street violence and gang life, was marred by a non-fatal shooting on the theater's doorstep and scattered fighting inside the auditorium. As a consequence, the Celebrity has booked only one rap concert since: a show earlier this year by Marky Mark and the Funky bunch, a mild pop-rap group led by the younger brother of one of the New Kids on the Block.
The Pacific Amphitheatre and Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre have featured some harder rappers such as Ice-T, Queen Latifah and Public Enemy over the past two years but only in the context of multi-act festivals like Lollapalooza and Gathering of the Tribes that catered to a predominantly white alternative-rock audience rather than a core following of rap fans.
Hammer, a superstar performer who has crossed over to a mainstream pop audience, recently played at Irvine Meadows--the only major headlining performance in the county by a nonwhite rapper since the Celebrity shooting incident (the Beastie Boys, a white band that combines rock and rap, also recently played at Irvine Meadows). The Santa Ana Stadium bill features black and Latino groups.
Quintanilla, whose company is called Arcos Entertainment, said last week that the acts he will present at his noon-to-8 p.m. concert don't fit the hard-core mold of an Ice-T, an Ice Cube or a Public Enemy.
"Cypress Hill is not a radical group. Their most radical theme is that they believe in the legalization of marijuana," he said (Cypress Hill isn't exactly mild, though; the band's hit album includes raps that bluntly and profanely ridicule police, as well as lyrical imagery that alludes to gunplay).
"Black Sheep was on 'Arsenio Hall' the other night," Quintanilla continued. "Technotronic are the ones who do the Revlon commercial (which features their hit song, "Move This"). We have more of a contemporary pop-rap (bill)." Quintanilla said he expects the show to draw a racially balanced audience of 6,000 to 8,000.
While Quintanilla has begun selling tickets for the show through Ticketmaster, Mike Lopez, Santa Ana's parks superintendent, said the promoter has "some hoops to go through" before he can receive final approval to put on the concert: He has to present proof of liability insurance and he needs Fire Department approval of the site layout, Lopez said.
But Lt. Robert Helton, a spokesman for the Police Department, said police have no objection to the concert so long as the promoter agrees to pay for a security detachment of 16 officers at overtime rates.
"There's always a possibility you could have (attendance) by gang members, but I would say we don't anticipate problems," Helton said. "At this point, there's no grounds or basis for us to recommend that (the concert) not be approved."
Quintanilla said that the remaining city requirements such as insurance coverage are routine and that he should be able to meet them without difficulty.
But Lopez stressed that the possibility of gang activity or violence at a rap show is "absolutely" on the city's list of concerns.
"We're concerned about any potential problem that could arise," he said. "The Police Department is performing background checks, asking the pertinent questions" about whether the acts booked into Santa Ana Stadium pose a security risk, based on their track records at past concerts.
"We're assured by Arcos they're not an Ice-T or some of those other groups that may be considered more of a problem. We're being told they're not as hard core, and the Police Department is following up on that," Lopez said.
Quintanilla said Arcos Entertainment started out in 1984 promoting concerts in the Latino pop market, presenting such older, established acts as Emmanuel and Juan Gabriel (Gabriel's 1990 concert at Santa Ana Stadium was produced by Arcos). The company branched into rap music as well over the past year after noticing how popular rap is among younger Latinos in particular and teen-agers in general, Quintanilla said.
So far, he said, the company has promoted four youth-oriented rap and R&B bills in Illinois, Iowa and Texas without serious trouble.