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.’
Jason Corey Berry was flooding social media with casting calls for 2 Chainz videos years before people knew he wasn’t Tity Boi anymore. The 35-year-old Savannah, Georgia native went from helping with whatever the rapper needed to being his road manager. It was then that Berry would become responsible for making sure everything that was required to be done for the star was done.
“This one dude made him a pair of custom Nikes that kind of looked like the album cover. I think it was in D.C. because Kevin Durant was at the show [at The Filmore Silver Springs in Silver Spring, Maryland on September 9, 2017],” Berry tells REVOLT.
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” Berry explains why we still haven’t had a 2 Chainz tour this year, how a wheelchair changed his last tour entirely, and a possible new album before 2019 wraps up.
In 2012, the artist we know as 2 Chainz was beginning to rise as a solo artist. What were those shows like back then?
It was like being with a brand new artist... You might have two or three shows in one day. It’s still kind of like that now. It was a lot of energy because we realized how many people never really heard of him. A lot of people didn’t realize 2 Chainz was the same guy on the Playaz Circle song [‘Duffle Bag Boy’] with Lil Wayne.
He had a show in SOBs on [January 30, 2012] in New York. The hotel was right down the street from SOBs. Right before we left, there were tons of people and media in the hotel lobby. I forgot whose idea it was, but someone said, ‘Fuck it, let’s walk to the show.’ So, we walked from the hotel down the middle of the street, down the sidewalk to SOBs. We had a mob of people from the hotel — cameras and all of that— just walking down the NYC street.
The SOBs backstage artist area is pretty tight.
There is no artist area (laughs). It’s small as hell. I can’t remember who came out that night. But, I remember there were a bunch of other artists in the building. I don’t think we stayed in that space that long because of how tight it was... We walked to the show, went downstairs, got the setlist and everything right. A few people wanted to say, ‘What’s up?,’ smoked a couple, and then he went to the stage.
What has he gotten better at in his live shows over the years?
Crowd interaction. He’s always used TV tracks. He’s definitely got better with that. TV tracks are basically the instrumental that may have a couple of ad-libs in it, so the artist can know where they are at in the song. When he goes onstage, he has to really memorize his words and know what is what. There’s not too much to really guide him. That really impressed me... I didn’t know TV tracks were even a thing. A lot of people do appreciate it when an artist can perform without rapping over MP3.
In regards to crowd participation, around the T.R.U. REALigion days, if he had on a jacket, he would take it off and give it to his cousin, who was also his security. For the last song, [Chainz] would stand there in front of the crowd and his cousin would come back, and place it on him while everybody clapped and all that. Now, he knows how to read the [audience]. [For example,] if we’re at Duke, he knows that show is going to be different than if we were at a Detroit show on 4/20.
That type of discernment serves 2 Chainz well, especially as a businessman. How much is he involved with his live show touring?
He’s pretty involved. He’s not in competition. But, he looks at his peers and wants to be able to entertain his fans. He doesn’t want to give his fans something they’ve seen before... Right now, he’s big into projection mapping. That’s one of the next things he wants to incorporate in his shows. He’s involved with the setlist of the shows. He has a four-piece band now that we use for the bigger shows and he’s involved with their wardrobe. He’s thinking of what the stage is going to look like. If you go song by song on the setlist, he can tell you his vision for the content he sees for each one of those songs. He doesn’t want to walk out onstage, and it’s just him and a microphone, and that’s it. He really believes in production value.
If he’s so involved in touring, then where’s the 2 Chainz tour for this year?
The year’s not over yet. There’s still a couple of months left (laughs). He has this compilation album he’s working on with his [The Real University] label and some young guys that he signed. We’re going to try a couple of things out, and try and get on the road either before the year is out or beginning of next year.
He put out Rap or Go To The League earlier this year. At what point was it apparent to you that he wasn’t going to tour around that album?
I’m not going to say we never knew we weren’t going to tour. The album came out in March. So, probably between May to June... because we had a couple of things in the works to go on tour and some things didn’t go the way they were supposed to go. We also knew we were going to drop this compilation album and would still have a chance to go on tour this year.
‘The Pretty Girls Like Trap Tour’ in 2017 was your first-ever major one as a road manager. What was the reaction of the team when Chainz got injured roughly a week before the tour was scheduled to start in July?
I think somebody texted me like, ‘[Chainz] got in an accident.’ When you think of something like that you’re thinking, ‘OK, cool. He’ll be alright.’ Then, I asked closer to the time of tour if everything was OK. They were like, ‘Nah, it might be kind of bad.’ The next thing I heard was he broke his leg. The next thing I heard was that he’d have to have surgery or a cast. The next topic was, ‘What are we going to do about this tour?’
It was in limbo for a couple of days before a final decision was made [for 2 Chainz] to thug it out. It was his idea to perform in a pink wheelchair. He felt that he had a lot of responsibility and people depending on him with this tour.
How different did the tour become at this point now that you had to factor in a wheelchair?
Everything changes. [Chainz] is in a wheelchair, so he’s not moving at the rate of everybody else. So, everything kind of slows down. He moves slower, so we have to move slower. The good thing is that he did have a physical therapist on the road with him. His recovery time was probably way faster [versus] if the physical therapist wasn’t on the road. Factoring in hotel rooms becomes different. Getting him on and off the bus, in and out of sprinters, and in and out of SUVs... He had two sets of wheelchairs. He had the regular wheelchair that he rolled around [in]. Then, he had his stage wheelchair, the pink one.
How would you describe your role as road manager over the last few years?
I make sure every[thing] goes the way it’s supposed to go. I make sure the whole team has all of their hotel and flight information. We get to the city, I make sure everyone gets in their hotels, and I make sure everyone knows what time we’re leaving. I make sure to tell them what kind of show we’re doing and the type of venue. I handle all the details of the show. I make sure the payments [are] made before he performs and then making sure we get to the show, and everything is the way it’s supposed to be in the contract. I make sure he gets onstage [when] he’s supposed to, and he performs for his allotted time. Then, I make sure we get home and get to the next show safely.
2 Chainz is known for his big personality and sense of humor. Did he ever use his injury for jokes while on tour?
He played around a couple of times telling people he was about to stand up or pretending like he was going to stand up. But, at one of the last shows, he finally did it. I know before the end of the tour, he stood up and performed, but not for the whole show. The physical therapist helped a lot. She got him in real good shape. Halfway through the tour, he was messing with the crutches and then by the end of the tour, he pretty much didn’t need the wheelchair.
What are the most memorable things fans have done for 2 Chainz at a show?
On tour, they would bring him crazy custom pink stuff. That pink thing went big with that album. They used to bring him pink shoes, paintings, shirts. Every night, somebody brought him something pink. This one [guy] made him a pair of custom Nikes that kind of looked like the album cover. I think it was in D.C. because Kevin Durant was at the show [at The Filmore Silver Springs in Silver Spring, Maryland on September 9, 2017].
I’m not surprised KD was at that show. Besides him, who are some other celebrities who have come to 2 Chainz shows?
Definitely a bunch of NBA people. The guy who does our booking, Dave, he’s big into politics and stuff. So, sometimes there may be a governor or somebody like that who asks to come to the show. They may not even come to the dressing room and just want to come to the show.
How has his rider evolved over the years?
He’s on his health thing now. Back then, it was Swisher Sweets. Now, he only smokes Raw papers. That’s a big change. He used to do Skittles, but he doesn’t do that anymore. Now, the rider is water, fruit, maybe some hummus, fruit snacks, lighters, Apple chargers, candles, his black hand towels. His rider isn’t a dumb wish list of stuff. He’s not that kind of person.
2 Chainz’s career was reborn from a fantastic run of mixtapes and collaborations. ‘Tour Hits’ are songs that weren’t Billboard hits, but get huge reactions. What are 2 Chainz’s ‘Tour Hits’?
Has Chainz even been inspired by another artist’s show?
We went to the Beyoncé and JAY-Z ‘On The Run 2 Tour’ and were like, ‘That shit is dope as fuck.’ Same thing for Travis [Scott]’s show. For the projection mapping, he actually got married last year and that was part of his wedding. Wherever his reception was had this big, white inside. He had projection mapping over a couple of different scenes for the reception. So, he was like, ‘I want to do that for my shows (laughs).’
When the cameras are off and the fans are gone, what is your relationship like with 2 Chainz?
I [knew] him before I was his road manager and before he was 2 Chainz. The day-to-day manager, Tek, used to do mixtapes with Playaz Circle and 2 Chainz. So, we used [to] always kick it [in their studio]. Of course, we’ll roll up. We don’t really watch too much TV. We might... listen to some music, smoke and go on about our day. He has a restaurant in Atlanta called Escobar [Restaurant & Tapas]. We may kick it there. It’s just a real relationship.
That sounds like you both are close.
For Labor Day this year, we had a show in Vegas. Before the show, me, him, his cousin and another guy that works for us had gone to go check out Lil Duval show before our show. Then, went back to the hotel, got dressed and did our show.
He came out earlier this year on March 20 at the TD Garden during Ariana Grande’s show. What was that like and how did that appearance come together?
We found out she was going to be there a couple of days before. When they did the record [‘Rule The World’], she told him to come out whenever he could. I think that was one of the first shows she did. The show was on a Wednesday and we put it together that Monday. We went to her soundcheck and everything (laughs). She took that shit seriously. She takes her show very seriously. Chainz is always going to be him no matter what room you put him in (laughs)... When he stepped out onstage, people knew who he was. They weren’t too familiar with the song that well because it was new. But, they knew the hook a little bit. The energy was good in there, too.
Lastly, few artists have been as prolific as 2 Chainz this decade. What’s his recording ethic like on the road?
For the ‘Pretty Girls Like Trap Music Tour,’ he had a little setup and had his engineer on the road with him. He has a set up where he can record wherever. So, he waited until we stopped the bus at night and just sat in the front, and recorded all night. He doesn’t sleep much. He just records all night until the sun comes up.
If you love Atlanta stars and hip hop, you’ll definitely want to join us and AT&T in the ATL on Sept. 12- Sept. 14 for our three-day REVOLT Summit, which was created to help rising moguls reach the next level. Head to REVOLTSummit.com for more info and to get your passes now!