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.'
The end of the decade is the end of an era. Since Pusha T first ventured out as a solo artist in 2010, DJ Rick Geez has been the biggest constant of every Pusha T live show, aside from the braided flame spitter, himself. Earlier this month, Geez announced that he would no longer be Pusha T's official DJ. Nevertheless, even before he was Pusha's DJ, he was there to see how consistently impressive the rapper was as a live performer.
"I feel like he's always put out good music and always been a performer, even from the Clipse era," Geez told REVOLT TV. "I got with [Clipse] in '08. Pusha went solo in 2010. So, in those two years, we worked all the kinks out. It takes a lot of rehearsals."
We caught up with DJ Rick Geez after Pusha's performance at The Novo in downtown Los Angeles. In his final interview as Pusha's official DJ, Geez discusses performing with a fake mountain of cocaine, Pusha T's dedication to his live show and what to look forward to in 2019.
Before you became Pusha's DJ, you were playing Clipse's early songs on the radio at Virginia's 103 JAMZ. What was he like back then, as compared to now?
He was the same. They were really cool. Even when they had a DJ, they knew who I was from around the town. They always used to hit me up for instrumentals. They were fucking with me. I got them a few instrumentals for We Got It 4 Cheap, either volume two or volume three. I also gave them a couple of beats. If you remember the Play Cloths mixtape, I deejayed that whole mixtape.
When did you officially become their official DJ?
March 2008. They had a DJ and their DJ stopped deejaying for them because he became a rapper. I put my bid in and they were like, 'Go get your passport' (laughs). I went, got my passport, and then we were in Finland. That passport ran out of pages, so I'm on another passport.
Pusha T went solo a few years after you became Clipse's DJ. What were those first solo shows like?
It was pretty easy. It wasn't that difficult. There was one point when we had a hype-man. Then, he left. Now, I'm the hype-man. It's been like that for four or five years. It's always been cool because I feel like he's always put out good music and always been a performer, even from the Clipse era. That got his performance right. I got with them in '08. Pusha went solo in 2010. So, in those two years, we worked all the kinks out. It takes a lot of rehearsals.
You do the ad-libs for Pusha T when he does Clipse's hit 'Grindin' live. Since you deejayed for the duo for years before Pusha went solo, are you doing the part Malice would normally do live?
Nah, I was there when Malice was there. So, we switched it. Just to get a bit of the crowd participation in.
Pusha T came out at Coachella and performed on top and in front of a huge, fake iceberg. Where were you during that set and how did that come about?
That was cocaine (laughs). What I had on was all-black, so it didn't match. So, they were like, 'This doesn't match.' So, they put me in the cut.
What's the weirdest stage preparation you had to be a part of for a Pusha T show?
We went on tour with Yeezy for the 'Yeezus Tour' and the setup was real crazy. It was like a giant LED wall. When he was in the United States, he had that mountain that was going up and down. He changed it up for Australia. It was a long runway, but also a giant screen.
How much work does Pusha put into his live shows that fans don't get to see?
At least 48 hours. When we do rehearsals, we're locked in there for a couple of days from like 6:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. Live shows are important. You have to have live shows. If your album is crazy and your live show is wack, that brings down your album a bit. There are people I'm fans of that I wouldn't want to see live because they're not going to do the songs I want to hear and sometimes the shit don't be right.
What country gave y'all the craziest reaction live?
Probably Slovakia or Prague. We went to Nigeria. It was dumb lit. I'm not surprised anymore because we have the internet and you can find all the good shit.
What's a song y'all do now that was recorded on the road?
'Pain' and most of the shit from My Name Is My Name.
My Name Is My Name was recorded on the 'Yeezus Tour'?
At the L.A. show, Pusha saw a female fan rapping along to his lyrics and pointed her out, and gave her props. How rare is that to see at a Pusha T show?
I think it's a regular thing. It's always surprising to see what type of person knows all the lyrics. It can be a white boy who you think don't even listen to rap, or an older lady who knows all the lyrics. People that be in different countries that don't even speak English know all the lyrics.
That's when you know you have music that anyone can relate to. Did you hear Daytona before it came out?
Nah, I probably heard some beats. I usually hear the albums when they have reference tracks like The-Dream's singing parts that wind up being another person. I'm like, 'Damn, you should've kept The-Dream' on there.' That's how early I hear things. But, for Daytona, they kept it a secret. I felt some type of way about it. But, when it first came out, I was up and listened to it like five times. I was like, 'Oh shit' a few times. I threw my headphones off a couple of times.
I love that y'all do the first two songs from Daytona, 'If You Know You Know' and 'The Games We Play,' back-to-back at shows. Who made that decision?
I feel like I suggested it when I put up the show proposal, initially, last year when we started doing Daytona (live). Daytona is only seven songs, that's the only part I feel like could be broken up. 'What Would Meek Do,' 'Infrared,' 'Santeria,' all of them shits have to be together. 'If You Know You Know' and 'The Games We Play' have to be together. The BPM's (beats per minute) are right. It's in a similar key. I look at all that type of shit.
You two seem to have unspoken chemistry onstage. At the L.A. show, he brought his opening bars on 'Hard Piano' back. Did he give you a look saying to bring it back or did you just know?
Yeah, he gave me a look. Usually, we bring it back. But, we didn't do it at Coachella. That's what we get paid the big bucks for (laughs).
What songs gets the best reaction live?
Definitely 'Don't Like,' 'Mercy' and 'Move That Dope.'
How has Pusha T's rider changed over the years?
Hmm, the liquor changed. Now, we have Tito's. It went from Patron to Tito's.
Have DJs come to you after a Pusha T set and given you props?
Yeah. Grandmaster Flash, DJ Premier, Pharrell. Pharrell ain't a DJ, but it's Pharrell (laughs). I will be hype for a minute. I will be hype for a month. I remember we were in Hong Kong at this festival called BLOHK Party. It was Pharrell's joint. After the show, we're backstage. I see Grandmaster Flash talk to Pusha and I hear him say, 'Where's your DJ at?' My heart was beating fast. He came over and said, 'You killed that shit. You were scratching. I've never seen anyone scratch like that.' Same thing with DJ Premier. We were in Melbourne, Australia. Premier was talking to Pusha and was like, 'Yo, where's your DJ at?'
What do you and Pusha T have coming up in 2019?
Planning on dropping this new album and giving y'all more heat. They've been recording for months and I can't wait for that to come out. I just heard beats and I don't even know if them beats are going to be on there. I hear beats all the time. I hear beats and I see legal pads. But, the finished product is a totally different thing.
How important is the DJ to a rapper's live show in 2019?
Super important, no matter who you have as a DJ, even it isn't a DJ. Kanye has Mike Dean. Mike Dean isn't a DJ. He's a musician/producer. But, he still deejays, even though he's using Ableton. He's not using turntables. He's still your DJ.
More from Keith Nelson, Jr.: