There's a posse rolling into town this week and they're known as Stompdown Killaz (SDK).
Originating from Surrey, this fast growing crew of rappers, artists, breakdancers and skateboarders is quickly becoming one of the most prominent urban culture movements in Western Canada. Its ominous logo (a balaclava stamped with a maple leaf superimposed on two crossed baseball bats) may project a gang image - so much so that the SDK clothing line was banned by the Surrey school board in 2010 - but this crew is more about the music.
"Stompdown is basically a posse of dudes that are really into hip-hop," explained Snak the Ripper, one of SDK's frontline rappers who's currently on tour. "Everybody represents in their own way and we all push each other to progress."
Having kicked off in the early 2000s, the popularity of SDK has spread across western Canada and now has members in Winnipeg, Toronto and even as far away as Spain. The SDK YouTube channel now has over 50,000 subscribers with over 35 million video views, representing a strong urban culture movement since 2006.
"We're definitely getting some coverage. People are into it," said Snak. "We're just going to keep going - it's all we know."
Snak the Ripper, known to friends and fans as "The Ripper," has only been rapping for about five years but has earned himself a widespread internet fan base. His savvy self promotion over social media (including cross promotion with SDK) has earned him almost 24,000 Facebook fans and over 5,000 Twitter followers.
Highlights of his career so far include his group Brass Tacks (with Evil Ebenezer and Young Sin) being the only rap group invited to perform at the Vans Warped Tour 2010 and last year becoming the newest member of the 100 MAD rap crew, founded by Fredro Starr and Sticky Fingaz of legendary New York rap group Onyx.
The Ripper's voice is abrasive, much like his attitude towards what he calls "the ugly underbelly of our celebrity-obsessed society." His lyrics depict a troubled youth involving drugs, vandalism and social isolation.
He attests that the music is what saved him, learning to express his angst through his lyrics rather than abuse and self-destructive behaviour.
Snak the Ripper is part of the current Stompdown tour, and he's hitting the road with fellow SDK artists Caspian and Evil Ebenezer. Over the next few weeks they will be touring across Canada, with most shows in B.C. where the SDK following is the strongest. Caspian and The Ripper have just finished a recent collaboration, with a song and video coming out in the next few weeks that will be performed at their live shows.
The Ripper has also just released his third solo album titled White Dynamite, and he said it will show his fans and the music industry that he has earned his colours as an underground rap phenom. He said he's looking to enter the mainstream while remaining true to his roots.
So what can you expect to see at Wednesday's (June 20) show at Garf's? Plenty of video cameras, for one - all the shows will be filmed and videos will be uploaded the next day for all to see on the SDK website
"You can expect lots of variety, lots of fun," said the Ripper. "It's going to be a crazy party. Just mayhem man. That's what our whole group is about. Coming out and having a good time. We always bring the party."
Snak the Ripper performs as part of the Stompdown tour at Garfinkel's on Wednesday. Tickets are $8 in advance and are available at Garf's, Billabong, Katmandu and www.clubzone.com. Doors open at 9 p.m.