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 Jus has been one of Bow Wow’s biggest supporters as his DJ — from the teenage pandemonium of “Scream Tour II” in 2002 to the nostalgia dominance of VERZUZ and the upcoming “Millennium Tour.” He’s seen a fun side of Bow Wow most people never have.
“They rented us electric scooters and we were going all around the arenas with them scooters. They banned the scooters because we kept crashing into stuff, racing, and trying to bring the scooters on stage,” Jus told REVOLT.
How early in your life did you first meet Bow Wow?
I first met Bow when I was nine years old. We met at a concert backstage and the people who were doing the show introduced us. At the time, I was at the height of my career. We said what’s up and kept doing our own things. A year and a half after that, Bow was scheduled to go on his second tour, Scream Tour II. They were looking for a second DJ to go on with him and that’s when I got the call to deejay for Bow.
What do remember about that first show?
The first show we did was in Memphis, Tennessee at Mid-South Coliseum with B2K and Immature. I performed in front of large crowds before as a kid, but this was a little different. These were back-to-back shows of 20,000 people. I remember walking to the stage the first time with butterflies. I immediately got nervous. Behind the curtain, as we were walking to the arena, we hear, “Bow Wow! Bow Wow!” The lights go dark, the fans start screaming, and I got butterflies right before I got on. My dad was traveling with me and told me, “You can do this. You can go up there and do it. Just go up there and flow, and be you.” On the other side of that was Bow had a DJ already. I was the second DJ. I didn’t have to worry about anything technical. My assignment was to come on and be Bow’s hype man, and to scratch. His other put the show together with him.
What did you have to learn on that tour?
It was just being a student and watching. I was deejaying my entire life, but I never did a tour before. That was my first tour. I’m doing my homework and learning everything first. Bow Wow and my energy matched from the beginning. You’re talking about an 11-year-old DJ Jus and a 13-year-old Bow Wow.
You two were kids. So, what pranks did you two pull?
Everyone was competitive on tour whether it was us playing Madden or NBA Live. We were doing that all day. We were performing in arenas so they would open it up early for us, and we’d go in there and hoop. B2K had their own team. Bow Wow, So So Def, and I had our own team. We’d just be playing basketball all day up until showtime. There were water gun fights too. They rented us electric scooters and we were going all around the arenas with them scooters. They banned the scooters because we kept crashing into stuff, racing, and trying to bring the scooters on stage (laughs).
What was the most memorable show?
Madison Square Garden. I’m from Queens so I was telling my people, “When I come out, I need y’all to go crazy.” They told us it was sold out and going down in history. It’s going on the wall of MSG because it was a record. We came out and there is a part of the show where he introduces his hype man, his main DJ, DJ Shakim, who is my mentor who taught me the road. He turned me into the beast I am now.
The “Price of Fame Tour” in 2007 was the first tour you did with Bow Wow where it was just you two. What mistakes did you two make?
Funny story, we were on tour in Vegas and I was deejaying. We were in the middle of our set and we had dancers, another hype man... There were about seven people on stage at the same time. I was at the top watching the crowd, I look over to the stage right and I see Suge Knight walk into the arena. He brought his kids to the show and he sat front row at the concert. By the time he comes and sits down, I’ve already skipped the record. Bow Wow is rapping, girls are dancing, the hype man is dancing and I jumped to the next record. I was so afraid Suge came into that building (laughs). I had never seen him before and I was a hip hop kid, so I was aware of the East Coast/West Coast beef. I got real pictures with Biggie. That was family. I never thought I’d ever run-in with Suge Knight... I jumped the whole record. Bow looks at me like, “What are you doing?” I looked at him like, “I’ll tell you after the show. Let’s just keep it pushing.” After the show, I walk into the locker room, and Bow walks up to me like, “Yo Jus, what happened?” I didn’t want to tell him but I told him, “I saw Suge Knight, bro.” Bow was like, “You let Suge Knight f**k up our show?!! Suge Knight didn’t come to mess up our show. He came to bring his kids to the show.” I was nervous, I can’t lie. That was the first time I messed up on a Bow Wow show.
How crazy were his fans at shows?
It was pandemonium everywhere we went. We couldn’t even go to the mall. It was nothing but girls passing out and falling out. They were crying, fighting, pulling. I’ve never seen anything like it before.
What are Bow Wow’s “tour hits” that rang off on the road?
“Bounce Wit Me,” his first solo song. “Bow Wow (What’s My Name)” might be Bow Wow’s biggest song to date. “Fresh Azimiz” is a big tour record. When Like Mike was out, we had to do “Basketball.” That song was cultural. Those kids didn’t know who Kurtis Blow is, but they know who Bow Wow is. He brought it back (laughs).
How has you two’s rider changed over the years?
We were rocking out with Skittles, Sour Patch Kids, and a bunch of candy. We had chips, too. We were on Doritos heavy back in the day. But, we were candy fiends. But, now we have to have liquor on the rider now. We also have champagne. We love Gatorade. Our rider isn’t that crazy.
What was it like performing for the Obama family?
That was dope. I didn’t even know exactly what it was. I didn’t know exactly what we were doing. I’m sure Bow and everyone knew. I’m taking every performance like we’re about to kill the stage. They were like, “No, this is a clean show, Jus. This is for the president of the United States and we were going to be on a big TV network. I’m still in tour mode. When we got there, we were able to meet the family. It was dope. I didn’t know how big it was until we were done and we looked back at everything.
Wait…you got to meet the Obamas?
Yeah, it was great. The kids loved us. It was very welcoming. They brought us in to meet the family. Obama was like, “My kids love you.” Bow was able to take pictures with them and worked with the family down the line.
How has your role in Bow’s live show changed over the years?
I went from being the second DJ to now basically being his music director putting the shows together. I’m putting the shows together making the edits, and putting myself more in the show. We’re not using any ProTools, I’m doing all the edits live. So, if you listen to Verzuz when we were switching beats, I was doing all of that live. I got the ear for it. It took Bow a minute to trust me, but now he knows this is the partner I’m going to war with.
What was Jermaine Dupri and Bow Wow’s relationship on the road?
JD is Bow’s dad. JD always has the best interest in what he sees. JD’s dad, Michael Mauldin, was the one who put all of our tours together. JD brought me to Bow. It was all JD’s vision.
What’s going on with The Millennium Tour in 2021?
We’re going back out in October. Bow Wow, Omarion, Soulja Boy, Sammie, Lloyd, Ashanti, and Pretty Ricky going. This is actually a continuation of 2020 when we did six shows before the pandemic. We ended in March 2020 when COVID hit and we had to sit down for a bit. They let us do the final show in Raleigh, North Carolina and we find out the next day somebody at the show had COVID. They eventually shut the tour down.
What’s up for you in 2021?
I have a book coming out on my life. I also have a documentary I’m working on. “The Millennium Tour” is coming in October, so get the tickets. I have a radio show on iHeartRadio every Saturday at 8pm. I have a movie coming out I filmed called Super Turnt.