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.’
DJ Ominaya has been deejaying for nearly as long as A Boogie has been alive and with that experience comes years of knowing how music can influence different circumstances. After deejaying for the rapper for nearly three years, he’s helped the young artist develop his ear to discern the difference between a radio hit and music made for festivals.
“Once I introduced him to that festival vibe and how to perform for these types of crowds, that’s when he started hearing beats and thinking, ‘This is festival music.’ He understands the difference between a radio record and a festival record,” Ominaya told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” A Boogie’s official DJ explains their Cup O Noodles beginnings, fans treating the artist like Michael Jackson, and what to expect from them in 2020.
How did you first link up with A Boogie?
I interviewed him at Sirius XM a few months before I even got with him. DJ Boof, which is Fab’s DJ, was cool with them and Boogie’s old manager Webb used to manage Fab. Boof threw me the alley-oop and told them, ‘My man Ominiya can rock with Boogie because I got Fab and Nicki.’ Our first show was in 2017. We never had full conversations before that day. I got the call and they were like, ‘Yo, we need you at Amadeus [Night Club] for Boogie and I was like, ‘Alright. Just send me the time and let’s figure out his show set.’
They told me, ‘He doesn’t have a show set.’ I get to the venue and Boogie gets there with his entourage. Mind you, I don’t know anybody at that time. Twenty minutes before we went on stag, he was like, ‘I want to do these records.’ I was like, ‘Alright. Let me put this in order.’ We did it on the fly. The next morning, I got a call from Webb and he was like, ‘We want to run with you.’ The rest is history.
What were some mistakes you and A Boogie learned from that makes your live show what it is now?
Sometimes, he would go off the setlist we had and at that time, I didn’t know all his records like the album cuts. He would a capella into something and I wasn’t sure what record that was because I wasn’t sure of his whole catalog. I only knew the records that were played in the club. So, I’d have a different song cued up than he wanted and it threw me off. As time went on, he started to get confidence in me to put the show together like a story where each song has a segway into the next song and now we have dialogue. He never used to do that. Now, we’ve developed a full show with a band and full production set up.
When was the first show that you two had chemistry locked down?
Later that year, in 2016, we did a mini-tour for his album (The Bigger Artist) that was dropping in September. We did 15 dates. By the fifth show, I was already in sync with him. When we did the show in Dallas, it was so crazy. I had him talking. The chemistry was great. He was engaging the crowd. That’s when I knew this was about to be something serious.
What part of the A Boogie show do you think fans enjoy, but don’t understand how much work is put into it?
A lot of the stuff we work on in rehearsal is with the band because they have to be in sync with us. When he’s performing, he likes for certain parts of the song to be dropped out and instruments soloed out, so timing is everything. A lot of people don’t realize that during a show, you have to have chemistry with the artist and chemistry with the band. We work on timing a lot. He could be doing anything onstage, but if he gives me a look, I know what that look means. He doesn’t have to say a word and I have to cue the band. Imagine him giving me a cue and I have to cue three other band members that are on different places onstage. When you look at the show, as a whole, it’s like a little love story. You go through the whole show, watch how he performs and you’ll see it’s like a story of his life.
A Boogie has a number of hits, but what are his ‘tour hits’?
He has a fanbase that listens to everything. One of the records we chose to make a tour hit that wasn’t a breakout record was ‘Love, Drugs, and Sex.’ That’s one record we can perform anywhere in the world and they go so crazy, and I will be like, ‘Damn, we didn’t even put this out. No video or nothing.’ The first time we performed that song live was literally after Hoodie SZN came out in December  and we were in Australia in the middle of January at a festival. I was like, ‘Since we’re at a festival, we should perform this record because it’s like a mosh pit record. We can really make people go crazy.’ He was like, ‘You want to try it?’ I was like, ‘Yeah. Why not? Let’s put it in the set where we do the love records.’ We performed it in Sydney and those kids went crazy. After that, we were like, ‘Nah, we have to add this to the set.’
What’s the international reaction to A Boogie?
We’ve seen it all. We’ve traveled from Hawaii to Australia and everything in between. We’ve seen fans shaking like he’s Michael Jackson. People have literally told him his songs got them through stuff. He takes it all in. We treat him like a little brother, so we keep him grounded. We still snap on him and throw water on him. We play games because it’s like a brotherhood and we keep him grounded. So, he doesn’t even realize his impact on this generation because he’s so grounded.
We were at the airport in Prague. We literally just got off the plane and he had his hoodie on. Someone spotted him from the other side of the airport and ran up to him like, ‘Oh my god! Boogie Wit Da Hoodie. Boogie Wit Da Hoodie.’ He didn't’ even know English and that blew Boogie’s mind. We see all types of stuff.
There was a beer pong match with both of you and Post Malone, while you were overseas. How’d that end up?
(Laughs) We were in Ireland doing ‘The Longitude Festival’ there (on July 13, 2018). Me, Boogie and Post were chopping it up. Post and I were drinking Bud Light and Boogie was like, ‘Y’all niggas drink beer?’ Post was like, ‘Hell yeah. I love beer.’ Boogie was like, ‘I never drank beer before.’ That’s when Post and I were cracking up like, ‘Yo, you have to try beer, bro.’ He tried it and pinched his nose. We started playing beer pong. It was Post and me against Boogie and Post’s security. Post is like a champ at that shit, so you know we won.
You have a brotherhood with A Boogie. When did you feel you solidified that with him?
After the second tour. The first tour was a mini-tour. We did a real tour where we were gone for two months. This was Boogie’s first album. There was no real budget. We were eating Cup O’ Noodles on the bus [and] trying to survive. We would play ball every day. We would play video games. We would stay up and help him pick beats, and he would make music. That’s when it started to be like a brotherhood. When we went to Europe, that’s when it became more brotherly. Out there, there was only a handful of us. It would be me, two security, his manager and production. It was about eight of us. We would hang out every day. After that point, he was my guy.
You two have shared some emotional moments onstage, as well. I remember Master P came out at one show and you all paid tribute to Nipsey. How did that come together?
Silk the Shocker is a good friend of mine. I called him like, ‘Bro, if you’re in town, let me know. I want to bring you and P out.’ P doesn’t come out for anyone. He’s in his own world, doing business stuff and he’s just chilling. Nipsey had passed recently and we were not too far from where it happened that day. I thought it would be dope if an O.G. came out to pay respects. Silk called P, they had me on three-way while I had Boogie on FaceTime and I told Boogie that P was on the phone and he was like, ‘Oh, word? Tell him to pop out. I want to meet him.’ P was like, ‘Word, I want to meet him, too. I like that kid.’ That’s how that happened.
How have your more than 15 years of deejaying helped with A Boogie’s show?
It’s big, man. He’s still new to the name. We would go into markets and I would already have relationships with radio DJs and club DJs. The first time we went to London, Boogie had no experience in London. I already had a relationship with Tim Westwood and Charlie Sloth. I called Tim Westwood like, ‘I have Don Q and A Boogie in town. What’s up?’ He was like, ‘Cool, bring them up.’ Atlantic didn’t make those calls, I made those calls.
Have you ever seen A Boogie make songs based on how he thinks they’d be received?
Yeah, but he didn’t always think like that. He started thinking like that when we started performing certain ways. He never did mosh pits, I started that for our show. Once I introduced him to that festival vibe and how to perform for these types of crowds, that’s when he started hearing beats and thinking, ‘This is festival music.’ He understands the difference between a radio record and a festival record.
What’s the plan for 2020?
We’re starting the year off with a bang. We’re going to Australia on Jan. 1. We’re out there for two weeks and when we get back, they’re finalizing the U.S. tour. We’re already planning that and we have festivals booked. The new album is on the way.
Does that mean the album is coming before the U.S. tour?
(Laughs) I can’t say. I’ll just tell you this: The album is done. He’s such a studio rat that he still records like crazy. A few weeks ago, when we did Powerhouse, the album actually got leaked. They terminated a lot of the streams and sites that were leaking it. He went in and recorded 10 new records. So, this album might be 30 records.