With the explosion of rap, trap, and R&B parties on the nightlife scene in the last few years, it can be difficult to find just the right place to get your boogie on. However, a favorite among locals over the past five years has been Candy Rain, a party that embodies the atmosphere of a wild late-night house party where you can hang out with your real friends. After all, there aren’t many places, especially in S.F., where you can find the crowd screaming along to artists like Chief Keef, Waka Flocka, and Migos all night long.
Behind the brains of Candy Rain is Segundo, also known as thecandyrain, who created the party out of a want and need to bridge a gap between the varying types of hip-hop parties around the Bay. Now in it’s fifth year, Candy Rain is thriving with its semi-monthly parties, with plans to extend elsewhere along the West Coast.
We got to chat with Segundo about his DJ beginnings, his favorite up-and-coming hip-hop acts, and Candy Rain’s DIY approach to everything.
Candy Rain takes place every first and third Saturday at 1192 Folsom, with the latest happening this Saturday, Jan. 21.
SF Weekly: Give us a brief history of how you got into DJing.
Segundo: I guess I slowly got into DJing at several stages in my life. In my late teens, I got two Stanton belt drive turntables and a crappy Vestax mixer just to share whatever eclectic new rap record I got off Discogs with anyone willing to listen. I didn’t DJ for a crowd until 2009 when my friends Kelly Kate Warren, Jesse Robeck, Pony P, and Alexander Spit gave me a shot to play my OJ da Juiceman and dipset mixtapes at their party, West Addy. I was terrible and would trainwreck old trap-house era Gucci Mane songs during the empty opening sets to a crowd of 11 or 12 of my skater friends. Then, in 2011, when Candy Rain started kicking into high gear, I noticed my generation was really into it but I couldn’t win any of the older DJs’ respect because my mixing was trash. Being a hyper competitive person, I just forced myself to become better and ran through the usual late night YouTube tutorials and bootcamps until I could put together cohesive routines with several different transitions.
SFW: Take us back to the first time the idea of throwing Candy Rain popped into your head.
S: First concepts of Candy Rain happened at a Fourth of July BBQ where I was lamenting the lack of accessible hip-hop parties in S.F. All the “cool” hangouts generally hosted DJs playing vintage soul 45s, the clubs mostly had bloghouse, Moombahton, and other forms of EDM, and the hip-hop clubs had strict dress codes, aggressively consumerist and sexist marketing, and just weren’t fun. The idea to focus the party on ‘90s R&B and new jack swing was a necessary Trojan horse to penetrate the (pretty fucking racist) “no hip-hop” policy a lot of San Francisco venues held at the time.
SFW: How did it get to be named Candy Rain?
S: We named the party (and eventually my DJ moniker) after a Soul for Real reference. First, because that song kicks ass…or it did until I started getting roughly 20 Snapchat DMs every time it comes on the radio. Second, because literally no venue would have let us play at the time if we’d named the party after a Waka Flocka reference (again, because of racist club owners and the prevalent American fear of Black art and Black masculinity).
SFW: What kind of DJs do you look for to play the party?
S: Friends first! The main promotional avenue for the venue is still just my personal Instagram (@thecandyrain) and the DIY ethics are also prevalent in the booking. I don’t like to try hard, and the focus is always on how much fun our patrons are having. Sometimes, our buddies that we book to DJ happen to have big names. And sometimes they got their names for doing something that isn’t being a hip-hop DJ, but they always get booked here as just DJs playing fun, balanced hip-hop dance party sets.
SFW: What has been the most memorable Candy Rain party for you thus far?
S: The week Beyoncé dropped her self-titled album and “Drunk in Love” was everywhere. Some dude snuck a surfboard (surfbort?) into a packed-to-the-brim Edinburgh Castle and literally crowd surfed through the crowd. Also, any time cool rappers that we’re into come by and show us love or mention they’ve heard about our party back in Atlanta or whatever. That never gets old.
SFW: Candy Rain is now in its fifth year with a bigger venue, national fame, and bookings for other shows. Did you imagine it would become as big as it is now?
S: Not at first. I just wanted a place to party back then, but in the summer of 2011 and through 2012 there was just a huge rush of great new rap and R&B projects with a wide range of styles gaining traction. There were releases from A$AP Rocky, Chief Keef, 2 Chainz’s Based on a TRU Story, Channel Orange, Good Kid MAAD City, etc., and it was pretty clear that we were in the middle of a minor zeitgeist, and as far as I could tell, Candy Rain was the only popular party playing the newly reinvigorated “trap” consistently. That’s kind of when I realized it would probably grow, but still, I didn’t imagine I’d be able to do it in other cities and what not.
SFW: Has it become a full-time job for you yet? Are there any other projects you’re working on?
S: Yeah, it’s pretty much a full time job, not just Candy Rain but DJing other parties and booking cool events. My main project right now is the (yet to be announced) Candy Rain L.A. residency. It’s gonna be a lot bigger than the S.F. Candy Rain in a lot of ways and that’s probably all I can say before everything is 100 percent set in stone. I also have a bit of a recurring role in my good friend Stephanie Villa’s super popular YouTube channel and usually get recognized for that way more often than for Candy Rain.
SFW: How do you guys manage to distance yourself from the growing number of trap parties permeating the nightlife scene?
S: No need to distance ourselves! I love most of the ones in the Bay, at least the ones that play straightforward trap and not EDM. I’m a big fan of Another Party Fam, Function, and pretty much any party not DJ’d by people who hopped on to our hip-hop scene after the dubstep and trap/EDM bubble burst for them. We invite other parties to do joint events with us often and try to collaborate to keep our scene going, and it’s kind of weird but we’re one of the first straight-forward rap parties in this new rap/dad-hat, mumble rap scene. We definitely aren’t claiming to have invented rap parties [laughs] so we have the pedigree. Also we try to keep it DIY, I think it’s corny to try hard. Our party spread by word of mouth and Instagram flyers with funny captions and tongue-in-cheek rap references, so if you’re trying super hard and naming your event after flavor of the month urban buzz words we probably don’t fuck with you.
SFW: Which song do you find people shout along with the most?
S: Without a doubt I’m convinced I can keep jumping behind the decks and looping “Bad & Boujee” for an entire set and it would have zero negative impact on my career.
SFW: Who are some up and coming hip-hop artists you think people should be aware of?
S: Caleborate is great, he makes fun hip-hop that maintains lyrical integrity but with a ton of personality and charm, basically the kind of music J. Cole fans like to pretend they’re listening to.
Larry June, an S.F. native making gritty trap and hustle music with the best ‘70s funk ad-lib game in the world and a positive message about eating well.
Those are two dudes I listen to a ton in real life, any other rappers are gonna have to hit my PayPal for the plug before I do my next interview.
SFW: What’s the typical drink of choice at a Candy Rain?
S: In the timeless words of Bay Area treasure OG Kel, “It’s time for some tic-tacs!”
SFW: To end, sum up the experience of Candy Rain in one sentence.
S: Come to our party, don’t be a dick, don’t be racist, don’t be a homophobe, and keep your entitlement over other people’s bodies outside the door.