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.'
In 2009, before many rap fans had his music in their ears, DJ Bran had Meek Mill in his Myspace messages. Then, the pair officially started hitting the road in 2013 -- months after Meek released his debut album, Dreams And Nightmares. Since then, they've performed in front of hundreds of thousands of people together, and are now perfectly in-sync onstage.
"Now, we can do it with our eyes closed. At first, it was a headache trying to get it together and get the chemistry right. Now, we can wing these shows," Bran told REVOLT TV.
In this installment of Tour Tales, DJ Bran breaks down Meek's 2019 Summer Jam performance, what it was like touring during the Drake beef, and the adjustments Meek made after coming home from prison.
Meek had one of the best sets at Summer Jam this year partly because he had flames shooting into the sky behind him. What was it like deejaying that performance?
Man, it was hot as shit. I ain't going to lie (laughs). We always have fire, but we don't always have that much fire. That was extra. We got the big, big fire cannon. My laptop was hot as shit. I was concerned about my laptop because that shit was hot. It was the closest to the fire.
When did you know the setlist for Summer Jam?
I probably knew about 30 minutes before we got on the stage. Around like 8:00 p.m. We already knew Fabolous was going to come out. But, [A$AP] Ferg and CalBoy were last minute.
Was Summer Jam the first place he did his verse from DJ Khaled's song 'You Stay'?
On a big stage like that? Yeah. We did it in Vegas at Club Drai's (on May 24). But, that's a club, so it's different.
What was Meek's reaction after he left the Summer Jam stage?
He was turnt. He felt the energy. There were also fireworks we had in the beginning... I don't know if you peeped it, but it was loud as shit like gunshots. Meek almost ducked [as] a reaction. I forgot we had them, too.
I was a little disappointed he started his 'I'm A Boss' song and then, stopped it because he said he messed up. What happened there?
I think something happened with his inner ear [monitors] and he couldn't hear the music. That was a technical issue right there. You have to be ready for anything like that. With him, you just never know.
In terms of all of the performances Meek has done this year, where would you rank his Summer Jam set?
It's definitely top three. We opened the All-Star Game and that's major right there. I would say Summer Jam is definitely number two or three.
You have an Instagram post from February 6, 2013 documenting when you first hit the road with Meek.
It was in L.A. during Grammy weekend at House of Blues. I just flew out and the show was the next day. I didn't know what I was walking into. I never deejayed for an artist before. I was always just getting the party turnt. It was a lot of pressure. I didn't know what I was doing. I definitely learned over the past few years.
What are some mistakes you made onstage with Meek that helped y'all build chemistry?
Never trust computers is what I learned. One of my computers crashed during a show. I run the show, so who else is going to be back up? I had learned from that to always have two laptops and have backup flash drives, and all of that. Besides that, it's small, minor things like hitting the cue button at the wrong time. You tighten up over time. Once the show was down, he trusted the whole process and knew it was going to be on point.
How would you describe your chemistry with Meek onstage after seven years?
Now, we can do it with our eyes closed. At first, it was a headache trying to get it together and get the chemistry right. Now, we can wing these shows. Say if we're doing a show and he wants the crowd hype, I know the songs that he likes that are poppin' and he wants to get turnt, too. I know all the places where he wants the song to drop out, so he can do the acapella by himself. I know everything at this point and he trusts me with this, too.
What are some things that happen at a Meek Mill show that helps it go along smoothly?
Say if we have a special guest artist to come out, [the fans] don't see us discretely giving hand signals and reading lips to see what they're saying because the music is so loud, you can't always hear what everybody's saying. At one of our shows, we had on our setlist for Lil' Baby to come out before a certain song. Meek's onstage and he doesn't know that he's here yet because Meek's performing. So, we got Meek's manager in my ear, we got Meek's engineer [Anthony] Cruz trying to find out this or that.
The 'Dreams and Nightmares Tour' in 2013 was the first tour you were on with Meek. What is the difference between a Meek Mill show from then compared to now?
Quality. Our quality is different. He used to rap over mixtape tracks. Now, he's rapping over no vocals. Everything is more clear and he's not rapping over the lyrics. We leveled up our sound from 2012 - 2019.
Who are some noteworthy people who've popped up at a Meek Mill show?
Nipsey. If we were on the west coast or in the city, we always bought Nipsey out to those shows. I think I've seen everyone at a Meek Mill show except a Beyonce or a Rihanna. I've seen Hov. I've seen NBA players like James Harden, LeBron James. I've seen Diddy. Anybody could pop up.
I heard Nipsey and Meek recorded a project together of some sort. Do you know if that's true?
Nah, I haven't heard anything yet. I don't know if they laid tracks yet or not. But, there were talks of it being in the works.
There's a cool video of you teaching Meek how to deejay. Over the years, has he taken an interest in that?
Matter of fact, some club dates he had, he'd just hop on the turntables. One day, I want him to hop on the turntables and run the show, and perform at the same time, during his set.
Meek gives so much energy on his songs. What is a rehearsal like?
That's funny because we barely rehearse (laughs). But, say he has a week of rehearsals, he locks in for the entire day for 12+ hours. We'd practice from 12 noon to 4:00 a.m. You never know. At first, it was kind of rough because it was every day. Now, at this point, he trusts everybody.
The 'Motivation Tour' was Meek's first tour after being released from prison. Did you notice anything Meek had to adjust to in terms of live performances?
Yeah. When he first came back, he was getting tired onstage fast. He was just out of breath. He was jumping around for an hour onstage.
Did he notice that and critique his shows?
Yeah. He's on everything. If something small happens, he's going to notice it and bring it up. He'd go, 'Yeah, you fucked that up' (laughs).
Meek's been on probation for over a decade. Have you noticed an increased police presence at shows?
Not recently. Before his situation? Yeah. Especially being in New York, where the hip hop police are crazy up there. That time when he got locked up for riding a dirt bike, I was actually there when it happened. He was leaving the park, hopped in the car and they locked him up. We had Jimmy Fallon that day. So, we did Jimmy Fallon in the daytime. Then, at night, we were at Dyckman Park. He was leaving there. There were a lot of cops there. So, we thought they were escorting us out. It was actually a trap.
Sucks he'd get arrested for having fun. What are some fun things you and Meek do together on tour?
Most of the time, we all go out to eat expensive dinners where the tab could be over 10 grand. Other than that, say we have a show in Dubai for one day. [We were] there for a week, we'd knock that show out and hang for the whole week doing regular shit. Most of the time, after the shows, we just all go out to eat.
Drake and Meek recently squashed their beef. You were on the 'Pinkprint Tour' with Nicki when it started in 2015 and people wanted a quick response from Meek. What was the vibe of that tour?
We felt like we got attacked. We were in a militant mood. At the time, since we were on tour, we were doing too much. We couldn't just break out and get to a studio. The vibe was kind of crazy.
Meek said he was counted out after that. Were there any shows or things the crowd did that negatively him?
I guess, when it was going on, we had a troll in the crowd one time. He got called out. Meek actually pointed him out. The troll had a sign saying something crazy about the situation. That troll made a fool out of himself. Whoever that was definitely would never do that again. Meek had Omelly go in the crowd next to him, everybody was around him. I remember that. We were in New York.
But, besides the Drake attack, the 'Pinkprint Tour' looked great.
That tour was crazy. Do you remember the hoverboards that were big around that time? Everybody was riding on hoverboards. Rae Sremmurd was on that tour. So, we were playing ball after every show.
So, Meek Mill was riding around on hoverboards on that tour?
Yeah. We all had them. Just having fun with them shits.
Over the past seven years, how has Meek Mill's rider changed?
In the beginning, it wasn't like now. Now, I see a lot of gold bottles and D'usse. In the beginning, I don't remember all of that. He probably had one gold bottle and a few waters. Now, it's an all out, super top shelf rider. You got 1942 [Don Julio], T-shirts, iPhone chargers, all the necessities you may need.
Does Meek still ride on a tour bus because there are IG pics of him on private jets?
For sure. We were on tour buses the entire 'Motivation Tour.' He had a studio on his bus during the tour.
What is the most memorable show you've done with Meek?
I have the most memorable show and the most memorable gig. The biggest gig on TV was 'Saturday Night Live.' We did three songs. I'll never forget that. That was one of the biggest moments ever. The most memorable show was, I'd say a festival like Made in America or Rolling Loud in Miami because they had over 100,000 people. I'll never forget being in front of 100,000 people.
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