Most people do not know Darrell Veal or his story.
However, most people in Houston would know Veal by his legendary stage name – Wickett Crickett.
Veal is a legend and is considered by many as one of the most influential American music industry promoters and entertainment icons to come out of Houston, Texas.
There is no way that you can talk about the entertainment and rap scene, particularly in Houston, and not mention Wickett Crickett, who is by far one of the most legendary icons out of Houston, and has helped jumpstart the careers of many artists.
Veal was born in Houston in 1959, but arrived back in Houston from New York in the late 1970’s. He got his nickname, Wickett Crickett, growing up on the New York streets where it derived from a rap group that allowed him to appear alongside them at concerts and in music recordings – he did all of this at the age of 16.
Veal has been through a lot, has done a lot and has accomplished a lot, but has not gotten the recognition he truly deserves – particularly when it comes to the Houston entertainment and music scene. Nothing that Veal has accomplished has come easy and it has truly been a fight.
Now, Veal finds himself in the fight of his life, as he has been battling lung cancer since February, and has been admitted to the hospital where he continues to fight every day for survival – a fight that Veal is extremely familiar with.
Since his youth, Veal has always had to fight and had every reason to give up.
At the age of 10, Veal found himself all alone having to fend for himself. He never knew his father and his mother, who had ten children, made the decision to abandon all of them and not look back. After living in the different homes of relatives, friends, school mates and strangers, Veal experienced everything from physical abuse to homelessness.
This abandonment deeply affected Veal, who was trying to understand why his parents, specifically his mother, did not want him anymore. He recalls finding his mother in his 30’s and finally talking to her on the phone.
“I never knew my daddy and my momma was always mad at him,” said Veal. “When I was finally able to talk to my mother after all those years, after she gave us all away, to ask her why she gave me away and if she loved me, she just told me to leave that in the past and hung up in my face. I never talked to her again after that.”
His mother died shortly after that, but the pain still remains in his heart, because of what he had to endure as an abandoned young child.
Veal recalls several instances that made him look up to God and ask God why all of the physical and verbal abuse was happening to him as an innocent child.
“There was a time when I was still a youngster, and I was staying with somebody and they told me to wash the dishes,” said Veal. “Well, I washed all the dishes, but because one pan had not been dried all the way, they woke me up from my sleep and beat the hell out of me. I didn’t even know why I was getting beat, because I was asleep, but it was painful.”
Veal also recalls another time when he was trying out for the school track team and was beat unmercifully by a family he was staying with.
“I was extremely fast, so I tried out for the school track team,” said Veal. “It wasn’t my fault, but the tryouts lasted a little longer than expected, so because the track coach knew it would be an issue, he brought me home and told the people I was staying with at the time, that it was not my fault and that I was simply trying to make the track team and that I was really good. They listened to the coach and after he left, they proceeded to beat the mess out of me.”
Veal quickly realized that he needed to figure out how to take care of himself or else his situation would stay the same or get worse.
Veal attended various schools in Houston, but spent the majority of his time at Wheatley High School in Fifth Ward. He played basketball and was in the band, where he played the drums.
Veal always had the gift of gab and appreciated music and loved entertaining people. He would often be called upon to tell jokes and be the life of the party in group settings. He realized that he could use his skills, popularity and influence to make a difference and make money.
It was through his experiences interacting with musicians and artists, that Wickett Crickett realized that they needed someone who could effectively network and properly communicate with the right people, so that they can help connect the dots to get some deals done and make some real money. That is how the legend of Wickett Crickett began.
Wickett Crickett became a pioneering artist and promoter in the early days of rap in the city of Houston. He aided in bringing a global spotlight and building the million dollar industry of not only Houston music, but national and regional urban music as well.
The knowledge in business he brought to the table allowed him to render aid to numerous recording groups and organizations that had been functioning in the city, but were not making any money. His active participation helped these groups go from struggling, and having nothing, to becoming multi-million dollar operations.
He was the first person to come up with the concept of “open-mic nights” where he would give local artists the opportunity to showcase their talent and be discovered. He had so many connections and relationships, coupled with his knowledge of the industry, that he began to grow in popularity and success.
One of the cliché sayings is that you should give a person their roses while they can still smell them. Although Wickett Crickett has accomplished a lot, it does concern him that he has not gotten the type of recognition and reciprocity from the industry that he has given to it.
Doctors have given him a short time to live, but he continues to stay optimistic and fight to make a difference in the lives of people.
When asked how he wishes to be remembered, Veal said he wants the world to remember him as a “true street leader, who cared for his people.”
One of the things Veal has always prided himself in, is having as many street soldiers on his team as possible. He has always wanted to make sure he took care of as many people as he could, so that no one would have to go through what he went through.
Since he has been in the hospital, Veal has received the honor of being presented with a City of Houston proclamation by Mayor Annise Parker, declaring October 24, 2015, as “M.C. Wickett Crickett Day” in Houston. In addition to that, Veal has been visited by elected officials such as U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, State Rep. and Houston mayoral candidate Sylvester Turner and City Controller Ronald Green.
Now, at the age of 56, not only has Wickett Crickett been a successful promoter and entertainer, he has been one of the most active and generous philanthropists in Houston. He has always made a dedicated effort to give back to the community by helping out the youth as a coach and organizing charity leagues; holding fundraisers and awareness drives; supporting HIV testing; working with numerous groups such as KIPP schools, various Houston public schools, Parents Against Predators, OG1, and the Knights of Nobility; regularly visiting Juvenile Detention centers; working with low-income community youth; volunteering to work with elected officials like U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, State Rep. Sylvester Turner and City Controller Ronald Green; and showing up to places wherever he felt he could make a difference.
Wickett Crickett’s primary motto has always been, “I am you, you are me and together we are one!,” and he wants everyone to remember, especially the youth, that life is about helping others and not just about looking out for self.