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.'
Giovanni "Bxlyfe" Cardenales is an 18-year-old photographer who has taken some of the most dynamic photographs of J.I.D on the Dreamville rapper's "Catch Me If You Can Tour." But, the Bronx native could have been playing for his hometown New York Yankees, if he never found his love of the lens.
"I really used to play baseball my whole life. I wanted to go to the MLB my whole life. But, senior year of high school is when I went to L.A. Once I went to L.A., I legit stopped playing baseball and went into photography. Ever since then, I've literally wanted it to be my life," Bxlyfe told REVOLT TV.
On this edition of 'Tour Tales,' Bxlyfe explains how a racist Airbnb host led to a life-changing opportunity, the craziest fan reactions at J.I.D shows and much more.
How did you link up with J.I.D?
At The Smokers Club Festival in L.A. (in May 2018). That was the same week [Flipp Dinero's DJ] Kam and I both went up to L.A. because he had a set out there. He was like, 'Yo, bro. Just pull up with me. We going to be here and have all the passes. Pull up and have fun.' I pulled up, and we stayed two nights in the Airbnb in Koreatown that Kam's manager booked. It had one bed when we got there, bro. We were like 'Oh, man.' Then, we get to the new Airbnb in L.A. The Airbnb host was there cleaning and shit. But, he wasn't supposed to be there. So, we get there, he starts tweaking and he kicks us out. He's like, 'You guys can't stay here.' We had to find a place to stay. He was on some racist shit.
So, we get kicked out the Airbnb. So, Kam's manager knows J.I.D's manager Zeke. So, we actually went to his crib because we had nowhere to stay. That's actually where I met J.I.D for the first time. That's how we really got cool. Smokers Club Festival was the next day or so. After that, we linked in Miami [at Rolling Loud] and we've been cool since.
Wow. You went from a headache to a life-changing connection. J.I.D's quite a personality and seems like a pretty funny guy. Are there any moments from his live shows that can speak to his humor?
It's some shit everyday (laughs). OK, so, we're in SXSW. We're going on the Bird scooters all over SXSW. We're going everywhere on the scooters. I think my bill for just the first day was $50. There were no Ubers, straight Birds. We got there right before [J.I.D] had his show. The last day we were there, we were like, 'Fuck it, let's go ride the scooters one more time.' On 6th street, you're not supposed to ride scooters there. But, we were like, 'Fuck it' (laughs).
We were doing it the first night, but it was crowded. So, they weren't stopping anyone. This time, we're riding through it and a cop tells us we can't ride there. So, we're just walking it for a little and then, another cop tells us, 'You can't ride it again. If you ride it, we're going to take it.' Then, J.I.D, just fucking around, drives off (laughs). He just drove off and then, he was like, 'Nah, nah, nah. I'm playing' (laughs). One of the police officers just started tripping. He took his shit and threw it in this barricade with a whole bunch of Birds they collected. He started spazzing on us and didn't even let us log out of the app or anything. He eventually let us go back.
You've been on J.I.D's 'Catch Me If You Can Tour' and have a very unique photography style where you place two photos of an artist together to make it look like they're doing two different actions, like clones. Explain that style.
Honestly, I took a photoshop class back in high school. It was called 'Superimposing.' It was just to create shit that doesn't exist, but make it look real. So, ever since then, I like making shit that's not real look crazy, and fuck with people's heads. Now, whether that's having two people, or having some crazy ass textures and colors...
What's the least glamorous thing about being a photographer on tour?
Only thing I can't stand is not being able to shower. Sometimes, we're traveling for like 14 hours.
What J.I.D song gets the best reaction?
'151 Rum' go crazy. 'Strawberries' is crazy. When the crowd be on it and know the lyrics, it's beautiful to watch.
You've photographed J.I.D a bit now, so you probably know how he moves at shows and what to expect. What are some moments that you like to capture?
I have a little routine. I know when he does certain songs he likes to run back and forth on the stage. Sometimes, because I know he's going to run, I'll start capturing it right before he runs, so I can catch the whole thing. He does a Mac Miller tribute during his shows. I already know that shit's going to be crazy. Rest in peace to Mac Miller. The crowd is lighting that shit up. It is so emotional.
What's your favorite show that you've photographed?
Honestly, this New York show at Irving Plaza was crazy. He bought out [YBN] Cordae, Joey [Bada$$], Ferg, [J.] Cole, Bas. Then, it was Mereba, Saba and [King] Mez on the lineup. That's damn near a festival in itself.
Did you know all of those guests were coming out?
I knew the Cole shit was going to happen because I was in the room when J.I.D called him and asked him if he was going to pull up. I believe he called a week before the show.
You also got a few other pics of Cole and J.I.D together from November 2018. What was that moment?
Oh, that's on the video shoot for their song together, 'Off Deez.' I was at the shoot, they had it in New York. Shit was fun. It was maybe a week or so before I posted that picture.
What's the craziest thing you've seen at a J.I.D show?
At the second to last show of the first leg of [the "Catch Me If You Can Tour"], this girl crowd-surfed from the back of the venue to the front. That was pretty cool. At the Buku Fest, EarthGang and J.I.D performed together, and the crowd was going crazy. They had someone on a big ass, floating raft. They floated all through the crowd on that shit. It was crazy.
What's on J.I.D's rider?
We got Jameson (laughs). We got Snickers. We don't know how Snickers got on the rider, but they're on there. We got Doritos.
Has there ever been a show where you had to adjust on the fly?
All the time. A week into my first time being on tour with J.I.D, two of my flashes broke the same night. I was going up the stairs and one of them just fell off my camera. Then, later that night, my other one fried on me, too. I was like, 'What's going on? I got bad luck' (laughs). I really had to work with what I got using no flash. During the first run, we didn't really have as many stage lights as we do now. So, it was a lot harder to shoot concerts without flash. I literally had to use the camera flash. It made me appreciate the camera flash a lot more.
More from Keith Nelson, Jr.: