The legacy Darrell Veal left on this Earth became one of the standards not just for MCing but promoting local acts, regardless of what region you belong to. He was slender, growing dreads in his later years, and never was without a smile or a word of encouragement. He gave DJ Screw his very first job, almost opening the door for what would eventually become a global phenomenon, all without actively seeking credit for his work.
Veal, known to Houston and a large segment of hip-hop crowds as MC Wicket Crickett, died on Monday after a seven-month battle with lung cancer. He was 56.
The news was confirmed by an official donation and awareness page in honor of Crickett on Facebook, as well as well-wishers on his personal Facebook page.
Crickett was always a beam of personality, a jokester who often proclaimed he was the one who came up with common MC sayings such as, “If you got a job, a car” or “all my independent women make some noise." He told Houstonia in a 2013 profile that all of those phrases originated from standing at a crawfish festival in Louisiana.
“Half the stuff that people say right now they got it from me to hype crowds,” he said. “I was saying all that stuff way before anybody. I just knew stuff to say.”
His connectivity with people eventually led him to create open-mike nights and multiple showcases across the city. Along with Captain Jack, a former Rap-A-Lot rapper turned legendary promoter in his own right, Crickett tag-teamed for plenty of clubs across the city, most notably Club Konnections (which underwent a series of name changes during its run in the late '90s to mid-2000s). As host of the SLAB Festival, tied into the colorful Houston car scene, Crickett parlayed four decades of relationships and knowledge into a large celebration, uniting with Houston mainstays such as Paul Wall to give back to the community.
In an Instagram post, Wall spoke of Crickett's legacy.
"He always stands up for the community, and speaks up when somebody is being wronged,” Wall wrote next to a photo of Veal in the hospital. “He's been holdin down Houston for a long time.
Diagnosed in February with lung cancer, Crickett vowed to fight, even as his medical expenses were piling up. A GoFundMe page was set up; multiple donation funds were erected as well. As doctors stated his cancer grew to Stage 4, he was given a few weeks to live.
It didn’t stop him from spreading his message.
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Last month, the city awarded Wickett Crickett with his own day, to be celebrated every October 24. Notable political figures such as U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, State Rep. Sylvester Turner and City Controller Ronald Green visited Crickett in his hospital, offering prayer and acknowledging his commitment to spreading the gospel in the city. A benefit concert, “We Love You Wickett Crickett” was held on the same day featuring Trae Tha Truth, DJ Chose, J-Dawg, K-Rino and more.
Born in Houston in 1959, Veal overcame his both the absence of his father and his mother abandoning him to head up to New York City in his teens. He’d been gifted with the name of MC Wickett Crickett on the streets of NYC via a rap group who allowed him onstage to perform. Once Veal made it back to Houston, he never looked back, crafting a nearly 40-year love affair with the city and fostering some of its roots in clubs on both the North and South sides. He also became a folk hero in Lance Scott Walker and Peter Beste's Houston Rap, the 2013 book chronicling the deep roots of the city’s rap scene.
“I am you, you are me and together we are one,” Crickett continually stated.
That was his motto. Not to ever be selfish about your rewards. but to spread them so that everyone could reap the benefits.