As a long-standing member of Canadian hip-hop group Secret Society, Doug Crawford has found himself on stages around the world and with some of the biggest names in the genre.
But instead of rapping his way to the big city, the Los Angeles-born, Kelowna-bred artist has chosen a quieter setting to call home. He’s been living in Vernon for the past year. And now he’s about to perform here.
Crawford hits venues from coast-to-coast when he and Secret Society are joined by Tyrone Parsons, aka ‘T” from Trailer Park Boys fame, for the Sunnyvale Liquor Tour, which starts today in Chilliwack.
The tour winds its way to Kelowna’s Sapphire Thursday, Oct. 20 and Vernon’s On the Roxx Showlounge Sunday, Oct. 23.
Crawford confesses he moved away from Kelowna to get a little more anonymity.
“I’ve been doing music for a long time since I was 16,” he said. “It got to a point that I’d go to Denny’s and everyone knew me. I couldn’t go anywhere without someone shouting out to me. My dad even bugs me about it.”
Now 36, Crawford moved to Kelowna from L.A. when he was 13, and started rapping while in high school. He met his original Secret Society word sparring partner in Kelowna and together they started performing shows around the Valley, and then beyond.
“In Canada, we were doing shows but not making a lot of money, enough to get a haircut and meals and some spending money, but we had to get jobs, which was the reality,” said Crawford. “When we started doing shows just for fun, that led us to touring around the world twice.”
Secret Society released three albums that collectively sold more than 34,000 copies and garnered a VideoFACT grant for single, Lakeshore Craze, that resulted in a music video that received regular rotation on MuchMusic’s RapCity program. Tours followed with the likes of U.S. hip hop sensation TechN9ne.
A few years ago, Crawford started rapping under his own name, and released his debut album, One Day At A Time. The album, which produced the single, Prayer, featuring Adam Levine, was on the Canadian Billboard hip hop charts for 13 consecutive weeks.
Since then, he has generated more than one million YouTube views and has cut tracks with heavyweights such as Royce Da 5’9″, Krizz Kaliko, Mike Posner, and Obie Trice.
But despite the success, Crawford says he has always tried to stay true to his roots and include those he’s met along the way.
“When I started doing it on my own, I’d go for a month at a time, but I would always bring someone with me, guys that I knew,” he said. “When I did the tour with Tech N9ne, I brought everyone with me.”
This team mentality will be prevalent on the Sunnyvale Liquor Tour, which sees his group Secret Society on the bill.
“Secret Society still performs. We now have two MCs, a DJ and a soul singer from L.A., who does the chorus. No other group have two rappers and a singer. It gets people who don’t like hip hop to listen, and we put energy and an effort in that people remember us for,” said Crawford.
Also on the bill is Parsons, who was born and raised in Lucasville, N.S. and has been rapping under the name KnuckleHead since the ‘90s.
First signed to EMI Records, he put out a pair of national releases with Atlantic rap troupe DJ Ruckus and Mad Craz. But it’s his television appearance in the music video for Classified’s Unpredictable that got him notice.
From there, Parsons scored an audition with Mike Clattenburg, who was casting the Trailer Park Boys. He landed the role of “T”, a member of J-Roc’s (Jonathan Torrens) Roc Pile on the hit TV series, where he has remained for eight seasons.
Crawford met Parsons when he did a tour in May with Royce Da 5’9, Eminem’s partner in the rap duo Bad Meets Evil.
“We met him at the show in Halifax. I watch the Trailer Park Boys, so was a fan,” said Crawford.
“He’s one of the few Trailer Park Boys who hasn’t done a tour before. The guys who play Bubbles, Ricky and Julian as well as Lucy and Mr. Lahey and Randy have all done tours. Tyrone does hip-hop similar to our style, so it’s fallen together nicely for us.”
Now the Sunnyvale Liquor Tour gang is ready to meet their fans face-to-face. Crawford is especially looking forward to their stop in Vernon.
“This is my first show in Vernon and the first show at this particular venue in town (On the Roxx normally operates as exotic dance club),” said Crawford. “I was limited to options of where we could do this show, being that we’re doing this on so many nights. We had to fill and get people in on a Sunday, but the show is almost sold out.”
Joining The Sunnyvale Liquor Tour in Kelowna will be Rude Dowg, Mike Ready and Vinsane at Sapphire, 238 Leon Ave., Thursday, Oct. 20 at 9 p.m. Tickets are available at sunnyvaleliquortour.zoobis.com.
Joining Crawford, Secret Society and KuckleHead in Vernon will be Rude Dowg, Alfy’O and Mexi Fry, Oct. 23 at On the Roxx, 3307 32nd Ave. Doors open at 8 p.m., with the show starting at 8:30 p.m. Tickets (19-plus) are $15, available at On the Roxx or at sunnyvaleliquorroxx.zoobis.com.