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.’
One day in 2019, DJ Cash was instructed to get his passport by Gunna’s DJ and the next thing he knew, he was deejaying for Young Thug in Russia. “Thug be like, ‘I be backstage turned up to what you’re doing too. That’s why it takes me so damn long to come on stage because my DJ is on stage rocking out and I don’t want to stop your shine,’” Cash told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” DJ Cash describes how a longtime friend connected him with Thug, what it was like deejaying the artist’s first performance since the pandemic, and more. Read below.
Governors Ball was Young Thug’s first major music festival performance in NYC since the pandemic. How was it deejaying for him?
Performing on the Bacardi stage at Gov. Ball was crazy. To me, every festival has its own energy. Some crowds would have a lot of people there, but it’s dead. Some crowds have a lot of people there and it’s crazy. That night was one of them crowds that were ready for Thug. Thug was fashionably late as he always is (laughs). We still went up.
What was your mentality during your DJ set before he came out?
My thing is I’ve been deejaying for Thug for the past two - three years. I’m pretty used to him being late. I’ve got to the point now where I’m going to wait until he’s walking up to the stage before I do anything. I’ve been deejaying for seven - eight years and I’m really talented at what I do, and know how to control the crowd and keep them going until what they’re there for is finally there. It was pretty easy to keep the crowd pumped up. Thug be like, “I be backstage turned up to what you’re doing too. That’s why it takes me so damn long to come on stage because my DJ is on stage rocking out and I don’t want to stop your shine.”
Fans in the crowd thought Thug was as late as he was because 21 Savage’s set before his also started nearly an hour late. Is that why?
I wouldn’t exactly know. I did hear Savage was late and they pushed our time back about 30 minutes. Ideally, Thug and Savage would have many of the same fans. I can imagine they pushed us back so those fans who wanted to see 21 Savage could see 21 Savage and still see us too.
How did you and Thug connect?
It’s actually a crazy story. I’m from Memphis and went to Tennessee State University in Nashville. One of my homeboys from Memphis who I grew up with is Taurus, Gunna’s DJ. He put me on with an opportunity to deejay for Lil Duke by calling me randomly and asking, “What are you doing this weekend? This man Lil Duke is going on tour in a few days and he’s looking for a DJ.” I was like, “Shit, let’s do it.” It went from that to me doing an entire tour with Duke. After that, I was chilling that summer until Duke called and asked if I had my passport. I told him I didn’t have one and he told me to get one because Thug needs a DJ for his overseas shit. I was like, “Huh (laughs).” At first, I didn’t think I would be deejaying for the big homie. I had already met Thug twice while I was deejaying for Duke. My first two days on tour with Duke, I met Thug and Future on the same day. This was all in 2019.
What was the first show you did with Thug?
The first show was in Atlanta around May 2019. I was so nervous. When I tell you I fucked that show up to the point I was on stage thinking, “Damn, I just blew my opportunity.” The show started and when I went to plug my laptop up, my laptop didn’t connect to the mixer. I had deejayed on so many mixers up until that point and this was the first mixer I had never connected to. I’m looking at it like, “I’m not going to be able to connect with this.” I plug it up and the first thing it says is, “You have to download the driver.” We had to perform five minutes and this wasn’t something you could do in five minutes. We ended up taking all the music out of my computer, putting it on a flash drive, and I deejayed on someone else’s computer. I press play for the first song and it’s not the first song. Off top, I’m like, “What’s going on?” Someone runs over there like, “This isn’t the first song.” I’m confused, so I look on the flash drive and they gave me a setlist of eight songs and told me which would be the ones he came out to and the order. The song he came out to isn’t even in the setlist they gave me. I had already put these seven songs on a flash drive to be able to deejay on someone else’s system. I didn’t have the song on the flash drive and the computer I was using didn’t have the song in its library. I’m just like, “You’re coming out to this song because I don’t have the other song.”
How did you keep your job after that?
Truthfully, it was a blessing from God that it was only a 15-20 minute show and not a big show. He gave me those looks during the show. After the show, I talked to him and he told me, “This show was about 15 minutes. I’m not tripping about that. But, don’t mess up one of these hour-long shows.” After that, we went overseas and my first 15 shows with this man were all overseas. Our first real big show that was an hour-long was in Canada and I rocked out. After the show, he said, “Cash was rocking. He had them folks going crazy. I fuck with him.”
What was your experience performing in Russia like?
This was around the time the A$AP Rocky shit happened [in Stockholm]. I don’t know this for a fact, but I think it was one of Thug’s first times going to Russia. I know he said he had talked to some people who told him, “Land and do your show. After your show, go back to the airport and go to where you need to be. That’s not somewhere you’d want to chill.” The show was lit, though. Out of all of our shows overseas, Russia was one of the highlights.
How has your role in Thug’s show evolved?
I started off making mistakes but nowadays I have a bigger role in doing the setlist as far as picking the order we perform songs. I also help with picking which songs we perform. Now, he trusts me with putting the setlist together and we go on the stage.
There was a photo of Thug speaking to you on stage while you were behind the turntables during Rolling Loud Los Angeles in December 2019. Do you remember what he was telling you?
I remember that vividly because that was one of the times mistakes happened. They cut our set early even though we were headlining. They cut the mics and music off, so he came over asking me, “Yo, what happened?” He’s thinking there was no way they cut me early.
Who were some special guests you two have brought out?
A few times we brought Lil Uzi Vert out. Right before everything shut down, we did the Wireless Festival in London and brought out Juice WRLD. That was a memorable one.
Thug has Billboard hits, but what is a tour hit of his similar to Meek Mill’s “Dreams & Nightmares (Intro).”
One song that goes crazy every show is “Digits.” That’s one of them ones.
What’s the craziest fan reaction you’ve seen at a Thug show?
We just went back to London to do Wireless Festival again and they were doing backflips in the mosh pits. They were going crazy. Even in Philly when we did Made In America and the fans were climbing to the top of the light posts. Imagine someone sitting on top of a street light (laughs).
What is a talent you bring to his show?
My energy. One thing about me is I’m a perfectionist, so if anyone is going back and rewatching shows to critique how to make the show better, it’s me. I really dissect shows. I really do my homework. I go back and read the comments. There’s always a comment talking crazy about the DJ. There was one comment which said, “Man, Thug needs a new DJ. His DJ is killing his energy.” I said, “Damn, I’m killing the energy?” I’m a fan pleaser and I want to make sure I’m doing everything in my power to make a good show. I make sure I’m not yelling over him or dropping the music out at the wrong times. It really makes a difference. I really am critiquing myself.
Since Thug is always fashionably late, have you and him ever had to get on a private jet to make it to a last-minute show?
For sure. That’s how bro travels regardless. The only time I go to an everyday airport is when I’m not traveling with him.
What is on Thug’s tour rider?
There are usually a lot of people with us and the homies invite girls backstage, so we have to have party favors. We always have a little liquor on there along with fruits and snacks. I’ve seen peanut butter and jelly. It has anything you could think of as far as toothpaste, toothbrushes, lotion, soap, towels. I can come to a show and not brush my teeth all day and know the show will have a toothbrush and toothpaste (laughs).
Did you and Thug have any COVID discussions before your Rolling Loud Miami set?
Our team is pretty aware of COVID and recommends we get vaccinated. A lot of us on our team are vaccinated. I’m personally not vaccinated. I’m one of the people where you’re going to have to make it so I can’t perform if I don’t get it. We definitely get a COVID test before every show just to make sure we’re safe. We’re tested again once we get back home. Thug and I didn’t really have too much of a conversation about that. We know we have to be safe and mindful of people coughing, sneezing, and looking sick around us.
Is the pandemic in the back of your mind when you perform now?
I definitely wasn’t too adamant about walking through the crowd because those are people I don’t know if they’ve been tested before the show. Backstage I feel totally comfortable because you can’t get a certain wristband without a valid COVID test.
What was the “Justin Bieber Tour” like?
What’s crazy is everybody feels we were on tour with Justin Bieber (laughs). We hear that all the time. People really ask me, “So, you met Justin Bieber. How is he?” He wasn’t on the tour, that was just the name of it. That tour was crazy. Machine Gun Kelly was on the tour too and he has real rock star fans. His fans are also fans of Young Thug. I fuck with Machine Gun Kelly. That’s a real dude. We were at tour rehearsals and I got there a couple of days early. Machine Gun Kelly and his people were already there. I never met this man before in my life. I walked up on him, introduced myself as Cash, Thug’s DJ, and he was like, “Say less. Want to come over here and hang?” We went and got something to eat. He was a cool dude.
What’s coming up for the rest of the year?
I’m planning on doing my first DJ Cash Presents event where I get a big ass event space, put the DJ booth in the middle, and just do some crazy shit. I want to do that before the year ends or do it for my birthday on Jan. 15. I started producing. I have some pretty big songs that may get released. Gunna’s album is about to come out. I know Thug’s next big album is coming out.