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.’
The Future Kingz is a suburban Chicago dance group that has helped bring energy to the performances of a few of your favorite artists. Isaiah “KANGFRVR” Sosho, Renzell Roque, Demetrious D’Andre Dixon, and Malik Jones have performed with Chance the Rapper and know just how much he loves to dance.
“He always says, ‘I swear I’m a dancer, bro.’ He always talks about how he did Michael Jackson at talent shows growing up. He always brings that up whenever he gets a chance,” Renzell told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” the four-man energy group describes performing with Chance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” how hands-on DaBaby is with their dances, and how they make music with new dance moves in mind. Read the chat below!
How have your live performances evolved over the last few years?
KANGFRVR: I feel we’ve always had high energy, but our chemistry has evolved. We can be in the most fucked up situation and we’ll find a way to make this show do a 180, and everyone would love us. People could not know us at all and because of our chemistry on stage, it basically brings the show to the audience. Back in the day, we were very disciplined on our structure... it was more technique-based and having our cleanliness on stage. After working with one another after such a long time and developing this good family-based chemistry, you can feel it when you’re in the audience.
Jargon Dee: From the management side, I’ve seen other known artists who have reached out and knew their set didn’t have the energy on stage. I never sell TFK as a dance or rap group. I sell them as an energy company. I remember a show when they were opening up for some guys on the “Wild N Out” show at a college in New York. People were really reserved and they had the crowd sectioned out at round tables instead of stadium seating. The boys jumped off the stage, got on the tables and performed for each table, and turned the whole crowd up. It was unreal. Their show has evolved so much from doing little high school auditoriums to being on tour with Ayo & Teo and performing with DaBaby.
Was there a show where things went wrong?
KANGFRVR: There was one show we did and it was the most important performance in our careers to date. We were responsible for choreographing and creatively directing a set for Chance the Rapper, and this was the year he won three Grammys. When we performed with him, it was a sold-out show in Chicago and this is when we realized we had to keep it real with one another. One of the members of the group that isn’t one of us four said they had the choreography.
D’Andre: He was lying, bro!
KANGFRVR: When it was time to go on stage, he was located right behind Chance, so he was in visible plain view.
Renzell: And he was taller than Chance, so there was no hiding him.
KANGFRVR: He blew it on stage and that’s when we knew we needed to be more honest with one another. I think that was in 2016. That was at the Chicago Theater.
The earliest I saw you all working with Chance was on the set of his video for “Sunday Candy” in 2015. What was the experience like?
Renzell: It was random. We actually met Chance a few months before “Sunday Candy.” I remember me and a few homies from my high school went to an open mic downtown Chance was holding. I got out of school at 2:45 pm and drove straight there. We signed up for the talent list and it wasn’t guaranteed because he was picking random names. We were sitting in a crowd and weren’t anticipating performing or anything. We were astounded over the fact of us seeing Chance the Rapper for the first time in person. It was only high schoolers and you had to bring your high school ID to get in. He randomly called our name up. He was like, “The Future King are on deck.” So, I sent their music people a mix and we already had a set prepared, but there weren’t enough bodies — there were only four bodies on stage. We killed a quick performance and his energy after that was like he never saw anything like that before. He tweeted us saying “Shout out to the Future Kingz.” He gave us our credit. I guess that’s where he remembered our name. Later in the year, at around 11 pm, we had to hop in the mini-van and drive to a dance studio in the city to go to this private rehearsal for “Sunday Candy.” That’s where we met Chance for the first time. We did one rehearsal and then they gave us a date, time, and location. That was our first time working on anything with Chance.
How collaborative is he in regards to the dances?
KANGFRVR: He’s definitely the easiest artist to work with when it comes to our dancing. When we did “The Ellen Show” with him in 2016, when he performed “No Problems,” it was amazing because we had made choreography for it and when we showed him the dance he was like, “Let’s not use any of that.” He said he wanted it to look like him and his friends just invaded a corporate building. He’s pretty involved in that.
D’Andre: Chance isn’t too fixated on the choreo aspect of dance because he’s really a dancer and focused more on the freestyle aspect. We’ll freestyle, and he’ll jump in and get busy. Chance is the best, bro. He’s one of the easiest people to work with.
Did you have dance cyphers with Chance backstage at his shows?
Renzell: Of course. He always says, “I swear I’m a dancer, bro.” He always talks about how he did Michael Jackson at talent shows growing up. He always brings that up whenever he gets a chance (laughs).
DeAndre: But, he’s also down to battle. If he calls you out, you have to come with it.
What do you all need backstage to do your best performance?
DeAndre: We have to laugh a lot. I got to laugh backstage. If I’m not laughing before the set or singing a bullshit song, then the whole day is shot. All I need backstage is to be laughing.
Jargon: I also write up the rider for them and they need their Harold’s Chicken. If they have video games backstage, then they’re loving life.
What are some of your most memorable performances?
Renzell: I remember he wanted to replicate the feeling of being in the United Center. We drove to a college. We were there for about 10 hours and a lot of it was sitting and watching him change the setlist three or four times, and he’ll tell us which songs we’re going to dance to... It’s a lot of quick adjustments, which we’re used to. For Rolling Loud, I don’t think we had a real rehearsal. We sort of did the same set we did for Jimmy Kimmel.
Was DaBaby hands-on?
Renzell: It was crazy. He wanted everybody to part of every part.
KANGFRVR: Everybody! When we did “BOP,” that was so stressful because everybody and the mama was on stage.
Does the stage size affect your performance since sometimes it gets packed?
Renzell: I don’t think the stage size really matters because we’ve performed on really really small stages to performing on the grass to etc. When we did the show with DaBaby, there were sections in the song we had choreography to, so it was very easy to see us doing something as opposed to the other dancers. They were doing the little grooves they were supposed to do and a girl was twerking on a handstand. But, we had our moments. We had actual choreography set and you could easily spot it.
When was there a shift into making your own music?
KANGFRVR: Honestly, Malik and Renzell really started taking the music seriously.
Renzell: We were chilling at my grandfather’s house where I was living at the time. Back in the day, we would chill at the dance studio every day. It would start at eight or nine o’clock at the end of the day. Instead of going to the studio, Malik told me we should go to the recording studio. I was leaning towards the dance studio at the time because I was thinking, “What am I supposed to do at a recording studio?” I knew he was going to record something because Malik has always been a rapper. He definitely encouraged me to go to the studio that one night. He booked a session at 7 and we had dance practice at 8. We had 30 minutes to write, found a beat on YouTube, and we started writing. I remember asking him, “Is my verse valid?” That was pretty much it. We started going to the studio every day. It became a normal thing. We would go before practice.
How did “Cutty” come about?
Renzell: That was a very pivotal time for us as a music group because we had just dropped “3 Vets.” It was March 2020 when they called for a lockdown, and “3 Vet” was already out for two months and we were doing very, very well. We went to Vegas and performed our first show with that song. We went to L.A. and did the official dance video for that. I remember when we were in L.A. the lockdown was about to start. We were literally stuck in a condo. We got a beat pack from one of Lil Tecca’s producers and that was a layup on behalf of UnitedMasters. Isaiah wrote the chorus and brought it over to us.
KANGFRVR: I was rapping it like “Ice Cream Paint Job” and then he added a melody to it. He basically sang what I wrote and it sounded better.
You follow up all of your songs with a dance video. So, do you make songs with the intention of live performances?
KANGFRVR: Every single time. I feel if it doesn’t compel you to dance, it’s probably not music we’re going to pursue. If I’m not compelled to get up and do something, I probably won’t rap on it.
Renzell: When we record music together we think, “What is the music video going to actually look like?” When we record, we try to keep that in our heads.
Do the dances come before you record the song or after?
KANGFRVR: First, we make the song and fall in love with it. But, as we’re doing that, we’re dancing in the booth. We’re dancing while we’re making the song.
What should fans expect from Future Kingz in 2021?
Renzell: Hard shit. Hard ass performances and hard ass footage (laughs). Very, very hard pics. I’m going to be so fly.
Jargon: We’ve got one in Chicago at this festival called Titan Walls Music Festival. We’re looking to work with a few other ones we have pending. We worked with Cash App and already pre-taped their performance. It’ll be for live-streaming.