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.’
Deejaying for artists such as Lil Mo, Gille Da Kid, and State Property has allowed DJ Alamo to see, and adapt to, different performance styles. But, it’s what Philly rapper AR-AB kept him from seeing on the road that still sticks with the veteran DJ.
“That man kept me out of all the bullshit. When he knew something wasn’t right, he’d go, ‘Alamo, don’t come to the studio today.’ With the tour, he would never let me be with anybody. I would usually meet them at shows. I never rode with the camp, I rode separately,” Alamo told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” DJ Alamo recalls the moment he and Gillie realized they literally set fire to the stage, how wild Bone Thugs-N-Harmony fans get, and the benefits of an artist catalog. Read below.
What was the first tour you were a DJ on?
The first tour was a college tour with Funkmaster Flex around 2004. It had Ja Rule, The LOX, and a lot of artists. It was for his mixtape, I think. I was deejaying for multiple artists on the tour. My partner and I were put on the tour to do all the music for all the artists unless they came with a DJ. At that time, most of them didn’t have DJs. The experience was great. It was a little overwhelming because I may have been 22 - 23 around that time. Those were people we saw on DVDs and just being around them was the best because everyone was humble. None of them were big-headed. They wanted to kick it, they wanted you to know who they were at that early stage.
You’ve deejayed for AR-AB, as well. How was that?
That was around 2008 and that was when I really learned how to be someone’s DJ. He and I did a lot of shows together. We did the whole of northern PA, New York, Boston, Connecticut, North Jersey, South Jersey, Atlantic City. We did all of the East Coast. When I got with AR-AB, his show sets were real hood and straight forward, “Just drop the record.” I gave him the structure. He’ll tell you, “Alamo gave me the structure to perform.” I told him, “Let me introduce you instead of you just walking on stage rapping.” That’s how his shows used to be.
The first show that solidified us was at the TLA in 2013 and we came out for French Montana. This was when French was on fire. I remember being nervous because hip hop concerts have fans that are the hardest fans to cater to. Even AB was like, “This is a big show. We can’t fuck up.” We went over the show three to four times that night and did the total opposite of everything. I had a lineup set. We had everything planned like, “You’ll do this, you’ll do that. You say this and I drop this. You give a word or a signal, I’ll know.” We learned that over time. He just kept switching the songs like, “Nah, Alamo, let’s go here.” I was like, “Oh my God. I hope I don’t fumble.” I learned that you never know when an artist is going to switch up their show.
Did you have any police interactions given AB’s history with the law?
We never go into too many situations with us because the whole OBH x AR-AB movement is very militant. If AB told them to do something, they did it. That man kept me out of all the bullshit. When he knew something wasn’t right, he’d go, “Alamo, don’t come to the studio today.” With the tour, he would never let me be with anybody. I would usually meet them at shows. I never rode with the camp, I rode separately. AB always wanted it that way.
How did you connect with Gillie Da Kid?
AR-AB went to jail and I was really heavy in the mixtape game. I was the top guy in Philly, Delaware, and Jersey. I always knew Gillie, but I was with OBH. But, after AB went to jail, I went stupid hard with the mixtapes and I got a call saying, “Gillie has this tape Marijuana High. We would love to connect.” I went to the studio and we chopped it up. It went from me hosting the mixtape to me becoming an A&R on the mixtape, and getting artists and producers on it. That’s where I came in with Gillie. Gillie was getting shows. He didn’t have too many big records, but he was always booked. It wasn’t crazy booking numbers, but he was getting booked. He asked, “Do you know how to deejay an artist show?” I told him I used to deejay AR-AB shows and he was like, “Oh yeah, I’ll try you out.”
How were the early shows?
I didn’t do too well at first because I didn’t know his music yet. I did enough to get by. You know if you did something to get by, you know you can do better. The second show was OK. But, I’ll never forget the third show. It was Peace on the Streets with Power 99 in Chester, PA. We weren’t even the headliner. We come there and Gillie was like, “I need you to do your thing, get the crowd hype, and then bring me out.” All I’m thinking is, “This is my shot to show him.” This is in front of 3,000 people. I do my set and I’m rocking out. He said I have 10 minutes to entertain the crowd. I got the crowd hype and all I remember is looking over at Gillie, and he’s giving me the face like, “Are you ever going to bring me on?” That’s how much I was rocking. I was so in my bag entertaining. Then, I introduce him and we rock the show to the point where the Power 99 program director was like, “What’s your name? You did a great job.” Gillie was like, “I don’t know what got into you, but you did your thing and you’re my DJ now.”
What was the most memorable show you two did?
We burned the stage in Reading, PA. We were on a big show with Wu-Tang Clan... You started to see flames. Method Man came out and said, “Damn, dog. How did you burn the speakers?” We don’t know why they burned. We literally burned the stage. That was the conversation the whole night.
How did that lead to you working with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony?
We did a bunch of midwest dates on Twista’s tour and then jumped on the “Get Loud Tour” with Bone Thugs in 2014. It was monumental working with Bone. I smoked and ate with them. I hit some chicks with them (laughs). Me and one of my mans….aww shit, I don’t know if I should say this shit. Fuck it, it is what it is. Me and one of my mans smashed out one of their girls and they got mad at us. It was something we bragged and laughed about. I won’t tell you who it was, but it was one of the Bones and when he realized we bussed her down, he had to give it up like, “Alright, cool.” The next show was in Nashville, Tennessee and they brought us on the stage after and said, “To all the girls, are you going to the hotel or you’re going home? If you’re going to the hotel, stand next to these two guys.” He pointed me and my man out. I’ve never seen that many middle-aged white women be like, “Oh my God, I have a husband, but it doesn’t matter, tonight’s my night.”
I can only imagine what the crowd reactions at those shows were like.
Being in these markets that aren’t urban, I learned they love our music. They cherish us. Every concert we did was sold out. I deejayed on a spinning stage in Arizona. “Crossroads” and “Notorious Thugs” got the biggest reaction.
How did you learn to deejay for a multi-person group compared to working with solo artists like Gillie and AB?
You know what I’m still learning is when someone has a catalog, it makes it better. When they don’t, that’s when you become a DJ that has to make people believe in something they’ve never heard of.
You also deejayed a few dates on the “State Property Reunion Tour” in 2018.
I really started with Freeway. Their regular DJ was sick at the time, so I was doing the fill-in dates... My first time was a little shaky, but they had a catalog, so I caught on real quick. With them, it was all words. He might say a certain word and I knew that’s when I would have to drop the record. He said he got codes and clues. He’d say, “If I wave my hand, let me a capella it out.”
Out of all of the people you worked with, what are some interesting riders you remember?
AR-AB just wanted water. He wasn’t really a drinker or smoker. He just wanted water and fruit. Gillie wanted water, fruit, chicken, hamburgers, and candy like Starburst. Bone Thugs were color-coded. They had yellow M&Ms, Skittles, and every water you can think of like Fiji and box water. They loved a lot of taco stuff and a lot of Hennessy.