Musicians are barely getting a slice of music industry revenue, largely eating off of live performances instead. For 'Tour Tales,' we dig into the rider requests, delayed shows, diligent preparation, and future of touring by talking with the multitude of people that move behind the scenes. Record executives, photographers, tour managers, artists, and more all break down what goes into touring and why it's still so vital to the livelihood of your favorite artists. What happens on tour stays on 'Tour Tales.'
Steve Cannon is the perfect example of millennial muscle. Born in 1992, the 26-year-old Chicago, Illinois native had one of the largest Facebook sneaker marketplaces in the Midwest when he was a teenager -- and before he took a single photo of any rapper. A decade later -- with a mixture of fortuity and hustle -- the budding photographer began capturing the early moments of Juice Wrld's ascension in March 2018 after working with Lil Bibby for more than three years.
"[Lil Bibby] wanted to sign Juice and pursue him as his artist. He eventually put me on with Juice because I was already documenting his life. So, he wanted me to document Juice's life," Cannon told REVOLT TV.
Weeks before Cannon snapped his first live photographs of Juice, the then-19-year-old rapper signed a $3 million record deal with Interscope. For this installment of "Tour Tales," Cannon explains the importance of content creators on tour, what to expect from Juice's upcoming world tour with Nicki Minaj and much more.
You started photographing Juice around March 2018. By mid-March, reports had come out that he signed a $3 million joint venture with Interscope. Do you remember his reaction to all of this?
It didn't really sink into him like you would think, at first. It was very subtle. He's a very modest individual.
You say he's subtle. But, his musical persona is the opposite. What is he like on the tour bus?
He's very collected. He's not crazy at all. He's a very chill individual. He's very funny, actually. He likes to play a lot of games. He plays Xbox. He's very chill and mellowed out.
What's his Xbox game rotation on tour?
He was recently playing 'Red Dead Redemption 2.' We were in Atlanta. I love gaming, and I be on Twitch a lot. On Twitch, there are streamers that go into matches, and people that watch their stream will go into the game and be excited to be with them in the game. They'll be nicer to them. In 'Fortnite,' they won't kill each other. It was crazy. We were in this pretty big estate, and the TV's huge, and he's playing Xbox. I swear to God, all the players on the map were all surrounding him in the game, crouching and shit. It was crazy. I was saying, 'No one sees what's going on here?'
yu bet yur horses I did ya goddamn right..been playing red dead none stop soooo..I’m riding round town like a cowboy https://t.co/H2kYyrKlN9— . (@JuiceWorlddd) December 11, 2018
Then, someone had killed him, and he was like, 'Hey, that dude killed me. Everybody kill that dude.' Everybody started going after that dude. That was funny. That was right before Rolling Loud [Los Angeles in December 2018].
He's a pretty wild performer who appears to be a bit unpredictable onstage. Do you have to learn his mannerisms to know what he's going to do in order to get the shots you want?
As a content creator for photos and visuals, I like to create organic relationships with my clients, the people that I'm shooting for. That way, I know what they like, what they don't like, and what their best shots are. I'm very candid. I don't do many poses. As you're on the tour, you know how the set's going to go. So, you know what moments to grab, when he's going to be more expressive, when to get the shots in the pit, when to get the shots backstage. You learn the setlist and remember the shots you already got four shows ago. So, you always want to do something different every chance you can. So, you're never just standing in one spot.
As a photographer and content creator who looks at all different angles, what would you say is the craziest crowd reaction you've seen at a show?
I would say on the 'World Domination Tour' when he plays 'Lucid Dreams' for the second time. We'll come out to 'Lucid Dreams,' and then, we'll end with 'Lucid Dreams.' Everyone has their lights up and the energy they give blows my mind every time.
See, some fans just think it's all running around and shooting whatever.
Nah. I think that shot selection is the most important part of what I do. You get 2,000 shots. Out of those shots, which one do you know will be the one? Some people drop stuff they shot that I personally think they shouldn't drop.
What's on Juice Wrld's rider?
We always have Welch's juice (laughs). The strawberry and mixed berry ones. We get Gatorade. Not really too much champagne. We get Hennessy for the squad. The venue always has Hennessy.
What are some regular things Juice does that fans may not expect?
He's a regular dude who doesn't see himself as a star. You can walk into a 7-Eleven and see Juice getting something. He doesn't walk around like he's Michael Jackson or something like that. He'll pop out.
Would there be a situation on tour where you know not to shoot something?
Specifically, when you're in the studio with other artists. Juice knows I won't leak anything. But, the artist that he's with might not have had that conversation with him. So, when they are previewing new music he'll be like, "Cut it." Even if you aren't shooting and you have a camera, and look like you're shooting. You have to be super on point.
How important do you feel photographers and content creators are to an artist's brand and success on tour?
Content creators are slowly, but surely, being more recognized as being a very big part of the artist's platform. Back in the day, when MTV Jams was around, a lot of people didn't know who was making the videos. I don't think a lot of people cared back then, before social media. Now, Instagram exists for artists, photographers, and videographers to actually post their content, which it was made for.
Was the Wrld on Drugs collaboration album with Juice Wrld and Future recorded on tour?
That was at the end of the [World Domination] tour. We had a two week break. So, we went to Atlanta. Initially, at the beginning of the tour, they connected. I was there when they first met. So, that was pretty dope. That was after the first show, I believe.
Besides hitting the studio with rappers during tour, Juice had some memorable guest appearances on the 'World Domination Tour.' Who were some of your favorites to shoot?
Lil Yachty was pretty lit in Atlanta. There's so much that happened. The 'World Domination Tour' was all really his solo album. So, it didn't really have anyone crazy, all the time.
That tour was 28 shows in two months. The 'Nicki Wrld Tour' with Nicki Minaj is kicking off February 21 in Munich, Germany. It'll be 22 shows in five weeks; nearly half the time of 'The World Domination Tour' with relatively the same amount of shows. Does that change how you'll shoot Juice?
In general, for anyone photographing artists on tour, it depends on the artist. Some artists require more content to be released at one time. For some artists, less is more. I like to drop an initial recap. Let's say it's 22 dates. I want to put out four videos in those 22 dates. I do it in quarters so I have enough content to create something special, depending on where I'm trying to take it.
More from Keith Nelson, Jr.: