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.’
DJ Fresh has created history as a part of Future and Rich Home Quan’s crew while on tour with the stars. “It was 117 degrees...in the shade! We go to rehearsal and they’re trying to figure out a way to do it because the laptops keep shutting off due to the heat,” he told REVOLT about a trip to Saudia Arabia with the former. “It was so hot, Future performed in shorts and a T-shirt. I never saw some shit like that.”
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” DJ Fresh speaks on the show that started the Rich Homie Quan dance and much more. Read below.
Who was the first major artist you toured with?
With Rich Homie Quan in early 2014. I literally came in on his rise. He had just dropped I Promise I Will Never Stop Going In the Thanksgiving before and when I got on is when he and [Young] Thug started teaming up. As I was continuing with the brand, that’s when the Rich Gang shit started to happen. I was there at the start.
How did you and Quan connect?
The first show I deejayed for him was in Palmetto, Florida. It was amazing. I could not believe the things I was seeing. It was crazy. The way we connected was because I made a big name for myself in the midwest — Ohio, Detroit, Kentucky, and all of that. Anytime he would come that way, I would be deejaying the actual event. So, one year around Christmas time, I went to Atlanta. I had kept in contact with Quan’s brother and the management team. He was doing a bike drive and I called his brother like, “I’m going to pull up to the bike drive.” He was like, “That’s cool.” I pulled up and Quan saw me, and was like, “Oh shit, what’s up, Fresh? I didn’t know you were going to be here.” I told him I only came there because he was there and to see what it’s about. He had a show that day and he called me, and said, “I’ve been looking for a new DJ and I think you might be it.” The rest is history.
What did you notice about his performance style that you had to adapt to?
For the era we were in at that time, I noticed he was really rapping while he was performing. A lot of rappers today don’t rap. I was thinking, “There’s no way he can perform, rap like that, and keep his breath [control].” So, I planned to incorporate a way to where he doesn’t have to rap as much, I can fill in, and he won’t get so tired. We built that chemistry. I began to learn the songs word-for-word. That’s how we built our back and forth presence.
What were some mistakes you two made on stage early on?
Stopping and starting the song in the wrong place. After doing that three times when I first started, it was like, “Bruh, these are stuff you have to know.” A lot of times, it is shit that’s out of your control. For example, people standing in the DJ booth being in your way. People walking by with mad people on stage.
What was the most memorable show you deejayed for Quan?
It would have to be the show where the Rich Homie Quan dance started. I want to say we were in Florida. We were performing “Milk Marie” off the Rich Gang album and he did that dance. At that point, everything he did went viral. That was the most memorable because it started the wave of everybody doing that dance and everyone making songs about doing the dance. [iLoveMemphis] did a whole single called “Hit The ‘Quan.”
I remember seeing you on stage with Quan, DJ Drama, and Drake. What was happening then?
Quan was really big in Houston and it was Houston Appreciation Weekend — they call it HAW weekend. Everybody was in Houston. Drake was there, DJ Drama was there, Quan was there. We had an after-set. We showed up to perform. Drake and Drama were already there. We performed and it went crazy.
Did Quan and Drake interact?
Yeah. Drake was a big fan of Quan. They have songs together that haven’t been released. They recorded them in Canada.
What’s on Quan’s rider?
Quan’s a real simple person. He doesn’t really require too much. Hennessy, lemon pepper chicken wings, fruit trays, and a different assortment of bottles.
What are some moments you’ve Quan shared on the road?
Quan and I were living together for a while. There was a fight in Milwaukee at a show we had. A guy tried to get into the car that was parked inside the venue. Shout out to Rich Homie Nard, he ended up punching the guy. The dude got out of the car. I saw him come around outside the building and I caught him outside the car, and beat him up. It was crazy. We got him up out of there and we got out of there. Whatever Quan was in or whatever beef was going on, I was always ten toes down right beside him, right or wrong. I’ll tell you when you’re wrong later, but for right now, we’re going to make me this shit right.
How did you get connected with Nicki Minaj for the Pinkprint Tour?
Ironically, I was still deejaying for Quan at the time. I kept my relationships with all of these people. I toured with DJ Drama on the “Under The Influence Tour.” That’s how Drama and I got close. He called me and was like, “Meek is going to call you.” I didn’t think anything of it. Meek called me. At the time, Meek and Nicki were dating. He said, “Fresh, Nicki’s DJ is busy. We need you for these shows.” We set everything up. We’re opening “The Pinkprint Tour” in Austin and Dallas. I did that off the strength of Meek Mill. I made a relationship with Meek because, as I said, everyone who came to the midwest would deal with me. I introduced Meek to Quan. I was playing Quan’s records and Meek was like, “Who’s that?” So, Meek set up me [for] becoming her (Nicki Minaj) DJ.
How did you and Nicki develop your chemistry together?
Funny story, it didn’t last long. I didn’t find out until recently why it didn’t last long. I found out about five months ago. When you deejay for Nicki, there really isn’t much time to deejay. You might be deejaying for 15 minutes total. There was a break in the second show and I went to turn up the crowd. I ended up playing “Fuck Up Some Commas.” I go from the high riser all the way down to the stage. I run across the stage and then hit a backflip with no hands. The crowd started going crazy. The show ends and I’m told, “Nicki’s DJ is going to come back. We appreciate you and we’re going to send your check in the mail.”
Fast forward years later, we’re on the “Legendary Nights Tour” and I see Meek for the first show. We were catching up and he said, “I never got to tell you something. Do you know why Nicki didn’t bring you back after that tour? It was the backflip.”
After you deejayed for Nicki, you connected with Future. What was it like performing in Saudi Arabia with him?
It was hot as fuck. It was 117 degrees...in the shade! We go to rehearsal and they’re trying to figure out a way to do it because the laptops keep shutting off due to the heat. They had fans, buckets of ice, and anything they could do to cool down all of the equipment. It was so hot, Future performed in shorts and a T-shirt. I never saw some shit like that. I’m up there in short sleeves. It was cool, though. We ran through that show pretty quick. It got cooler as the night came...
They have different rules in Saudi Arabia that restrict what you can do. How did you maneuver around them?
It was cool. When you’re not performing, you’re probably in your room. In your room, you can do whatever the hell you want to do. You just ain’t going out. We go to Future room and kick it. He has a room that has four rooms in it, so you’re just chilling on the balcony doing your thing. It’s not as bad as people perceive it to be. As long as you stay to yourself and the people you came with, you’ll be pretty cool.
What did you have planned for 2020 that got shut down by the pandemic?
I was reaching out to Jack Harlow because I wanted to see what their camp had going on because I felt it was time for me to hit that crossover audience. Future is international, but crossover is not what I see from him completely. He performs at all different types of events for different races, but that’s not what I think of when I think of crossover. I wanted to get into the EDM side of things and I felt Jack was going to go that way. I reached out to them. I also had clubs and gigs lined up that were put on hold. Aside from touring, I’m one of the hottest club DJs.