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.’
Over the last seven years, 31-year old DJ Dibiase has witnessed Big K.R.I.T. grow into a performance savant with fans whose dedication can’t be questioned.
“One time, we were at Savannah State University. We had a homecoming show, and a girl followed us from the show to the hotel just to freestyle rap for K.R.I.T.,” Dibiase told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” Dibiase discusses performances, plans for a K.R.I.T. Wuz Here 10-year anniversary show, and K.R.I.T.’s onstage connection with his blog rap brethren Curren$y. Read the interview below.
How did you first link up with BIG K.R.I.T.?
I first linked up with him in 2013. I got a call from his manager at the time, Johnny Shipes, who runs Cinematic Music Group, at two in the morning on a Thursday night about a nationwide tour coming up in the fall with Macklemore, and they needed a DJ. They asked around who would be the best DJ for K.R.I.T. and everyone said me. At that time, I didn’t know who Macklemore was, but I got a tour schedule, and saw Madison Square Garden and big arenas. So, I found out who Macklemore real quick.
Around then, K.R.I.T. was a new artist and those are major venues. How did that dynamic affect the live shows?
It was kind of challenging sometimes. K.R.I.T. had his fans in certain markets, but Macklemore is a totally different demographic. Macklemore is from Seattle, Washington. Let’s be real, he’s a white boy. He’s from a whole different world than that country, down south, gold grill, trill way of life that we come from. It was an eye-opening experience. But, it helped us build out chemistry onstage because it wasn’t like everyone knew all the words to the songs or were his biggest fans. So, we had to work those 30 minutes that we were onstage opening up on those big arenas. It was definitely a challenge, but we got through it and ended up being some of our best times on tour for real.
What show highlights what you both went through?
Probably those first shows on the west coast. We started the tour in Portland, Oregon and we did Spokane, Washington and Missoula, Montana [over the next two days] — places we’ve never been to. We don’t know what to expect. Those first couple of shows really tested our strength. When we started hitting the east coast and down south, we were good to go.
How dedicated is Big K.R.I.T. to his live show?
He’s very dedicated. We’re not just up there winging it. We take a lot of pride in making sure we give the fans an excellent show. We also interact with the fans throughout the show and online to get a taste of what they want to hear. We mix some of the old school music with the new school. I’m not just his DJ, I’m the music director, as well, in terms of placing songs in certain orders, suggesting we do one song or maybe do only a verse of the song, and what to add to the show as far as visuals. Those rehearsals, prior to any tour we’ve done, are vital to putting on a great show.
What project of his does he perform the most songs from?
He has so many fire projects. He has the albums and the mixtapes, too. Whenever we do anything off 4eva N A Day, it always gets a great reaction from the day-one fans. We do “Temptation,” “4evaNaDay (Theme),” or anything like that. We also do joints from Return of 4eva like “My Sub,” “Time Machine,” “Country Shit,” “Sookie Now.” If I can pick one, I’d say Return of 4eva.
What’s the most memorable show?
I’d say in Atlanta at One Music Fest in 2018. It felt like a hometown show because I’m from Atlanta and K.R.I.T. lives in Atlanta. Doing festivals is a lot of fun because you’re around different artists and fans can see different artists from different eras and genres. We were on the main stage. When I was setting up, someone was on another stage across the way, so there weren’t too many people except the people in front waiting to see K.R.I.T. As soon as I started to play a few songs to get everything going, you see a rush of people running from the other stage over to where we at. It was a sea of people on a hot summer day in September and was one of the best shows. We brought out Bun B and Lloyd. I feel like we stole the show that day.
What do you add to his shows?
For me, I’m a personality. After that first tour, I’ve always had a DJ breakdown in the middle of my set. If you came to the shows back in the days, I had an actual Cadillac grill as my DJ booth. I tip my hat off to K.R.I.T. and the team for putting that time, effort, and money into the set like that because a lot of artists don’t care if the DJ is deejaying on a chair. To have this hunk of metal that weighs about 700 pounds puts a lot of focus on the DJ. I communicate with fans. On this last tour we did, we had parts in the show when I would come out. During “Blue Flame Ballet,” I’d throw roses out in the crowd. I don’t just sit behind the turntable.
What’s on K.R.I.T.’s rider backstage?
It’s nothing too crazy. He’s not one of those artists who are like, “I need 100 jelly beans and they all have to be the same color.” K.R.I.T.’s a real down to earth guy. He may ask for some T-shirts, Fiji waters, bottle of wine or Kettle One. We honestly are there for the crowd and making sure we put on the best show.
What are some fan interactions with K.R.I.T. that stick out to you?
The tattoos, man. Seeing people with lyrics, album covers, album titles, and logos tattooed on their body never gets old. A lot of K.R.I.T. album covers were works of art. A lot of his crowd is into art and very eccentric when it comes to paintings. So, K.R.I.T. gets amazing paintings at the meet-and-greets while we’re on the road. People spend a lot of time, energy, and effort into those works of art. One time, we were at Savannah State University, we had a homecoming show, and a girl followed us from the show to the hotel just to freestyle rap for K.R.I.T. We had to tell her, “Baby, you have to be careful following artists.” She was cool and got her 16 off. If you’re reading this, do not do that. That is not cool because anything can happen out here. So, have boundaries.
Curren$y came out on the last tour stop in New Orleans. What is K.R.I.T.’s relationship like with his blog era brethren like Wiz Khalifa and Smoke DZA?
Anytime we come to New Orleans’ House of Blues, that’s Curren$y’s residence damn near. They have the Jet Lounge there on Wednesday nights. Shout out to DJ Kelly Green holding it down over there in New Orleans. Anytime we come to New Orleans, we get great food, haircut[s], and might stop by Curren$y’s car shop (New Orleans Street Customs Motors). NOLA is damn near second home. One time after a show, Mousa and Curren$y gave K.R.I.T. his old school ‘86 Monte Carlo. It was sitting outside of the show.
The 10-year anniversary of his debut mixtape, K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, is in May. Did you discuss a possible tour or show?
We definitely discussed that pre-Coronavirus. We were talking about that even last year. It’s interesting to see how things are going to play out in the music industry with touring, shows, and large gatherings. This is festival season when a lot of artists make their money doing different festivals. It might be a livestream situation, but I doubt it. As soon as everything settles down, I’m sure we’ll come back around and do something. I’m planning on doing something that week of the release. I’ve been doing different mixes on my Instagram Live. So, be on the lookout on my Instagram for something for the 10 years of K.R.I.T. Wuz Here.