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.’
Crowned YB has been shooting Dave East for years and knows exactly how much his fans love him. “People are always getting his lyrics tattooed on themselves. Girls get his face tatted on them. Guys too,” the photographer told REVOLT. “There’s a guy who brings the same jersey that says ‘Don Pablo’ on it and has had it signed by Dave about 10 times.”
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” East’s photographer discusses the rapper’s relationship with the late Kiing Shooter, how she captures his family moments onstage, and the sacrifices she’s made just to photograph him. Peep the convo below.
What was the first show you shot for Dave East?
It was part of the “Get It How I Live Tour.” I feel it was at Webster in Connecticut. I feel that was my first show with him. My partner at the time and I drove out there, and we were coming to just get Dave additional shots because he already had his cameraperson. We had been going to the studio with Dave a month before that. I actually crashed my drone that day trying to get a shot of the front of the venue (laughs). I put the drone up, got the shot, but I wasn’t recording. I only had two minutes left on my battery, so I put it back up in the air ad by the time it came down, it crashed. That was my first time being on stage with Dave, experiencing the crowd and the interaction.
I wasn’t officially on the “Get It How I Live Tour,” but whenever they were in the states or close by locally, I drove there. I may have done five shows on that tour off of just pulling up and them allowing me access. Anytime he hit me up, I pulled up. My partner and I would shoot together and I’d have a second angle at all times. The “Survival Tour” is when I officially became his videographer.
Over the years, how did you adapt to Dave’s show to get his best shots?
After being a fan of his, I saw how he moves onstage. It depends on the crowd. If it’s a really big crowd with a crazy light show, I like to shoot from behind when he’s entering the stage, so you can see everything going on. If I’m chopping up the footage from multiple shows, I’ll shoot in front of him because there are times he’ll come out with his daughter on his hip and other cool moments. He jumps out in the crowd a lot, so you have to be on the side of him, as well.
What did you have to adapt to on the “Survival Tour”?
I had to adapt to not always carrying around my equipment and knowing when to leave stuff behind. You can end up losing things, breaking things, and you don’t want that to happen. I learned to reach out to other creatives more. No matter what state or country I was in, I would post on Instagram asking if there were any other photographers or videographers in the area. It was a way for him to get multiple types of angles and a way for other creatives to get their name out there. We worked with AtotheKash. ASB is a good friend of Dave and [Kiing] Shooter from London, and he met us in Ireland. He had a shooter with him who said if you need a light or a helping hand, I got you. It’s dope keeping that communication with other creatives.
What was the craziest crowd on that tour?
The craziest crowd was in London. It was a sold-out show and that was insane. Another shot was in Dubai where there were over 20,000 people in the crowd. It was a huge stage and set up. Dave went into the crowd amongst all the fans. You had fans holding up shirts that said “Harlem.” Those were pretty crazy shots.
Which were tour hits?
“Night Shift” definitely goes crazy. I feel that shit always starts a mosh pit on tour. A lot of his old music too — his freestyles. A lot of stuff you didn’t expect people would know overseas, they did. It shocked us. “Don Pablo” always goes crazy out there. Overseas, they’ll know the music he started with word for word along with the new music.
What are some notable fan interactions you’ve seen?
People are always getting his lyrics tattooed on themselves. Girls get his face tatted on them. Guys too. A lot of people like to bring merchandise they’ve bought off of him and have him sign it. There’s a guy who brings the same jersey that says “Don Pablo” on it and has had it signed by Dave about 10 times.
What were Dave’s thoughts about the different countries you all visited?
We’re all crazy on Pure Leaf ice tea. It’s all we drink (laughs). When we were overseas, they don’t have any of our drinks. Even their sodas aren’t like our sodas. We were drinking Lipton peach tea in these foreign countries and that wasn’t it (laughs). That was one of our complaints. Obviously, we can't smoke in these places, the main one being Dubai. The stress level for the first few days there was really insane. But, by the time you get over that and enjoy where you are in the moment, you end up loving it. That ended up being our favorite place we visited. In Dubai, we went to a private zoo at somebody’s palace.
What are some moments you knew not to record or take any photos?
When he’s around any big celebrities. So, the first time he’s around Nas, you don’t want to automatically take your camera out even though that initial greeting is the moment you want to capture. That moment can be awkward and you don’t want to ruin the moment. You always ask permission first. When Mary J. Blige came into the studio, I didn’t even think to pull out the camera because I was starstruck. Also, Scott Storch.
He’s also really close with his family and has them at his shows like last year’s Rolling Loud.
He flew them out to Amsterdam. That was a crazy show. His parents were able to be there.
Didn’t you get a tattoo on the “Survival Tour”?
Yeah, in France with Shooter, I got a tattoo. He was actually in the hotel getting tattooed all day. I always told him I wanted to get a tattoo. I just didn’t know he was going to do it on tour (laughs). I went down to his room and I thought about getting the audio wavelength of me saying “survival on the album.” It took three minutes probably. Also, having that memory with [Kiing] Shooter is something I’ll never forget.
Rest in peace to Shooter. What was his and Dave’s relationship like on tour?
To be honest, I’ve never seen them fight or argue. They were that close. That bond was very authentic and very real. Shooter was a very loyal person like Dave is. Shooter wasn’t rapping when they first became friends. Just from Dave’s influence, he was becoming a rapper and bigger than what people thought he would be. It was super dope seeing Shooter around Dave, moving around like he was talent, as well.
How did the pandemic change your 2020 with Dave?
We had an entire West coast leg of the tour. That got canceled. Rolling Loud got canceled. We had to dedicate our time to the studio and lock in. When things opened up for that short moment, we were able to go to Atlanta and Miami. But, that was very private. A year ago, we were in another country hugging people, but you can’t do that now, which is weird. But, you just have to adapt to it.