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.’
For a photographer, the picture comes before anything else. For the 30-year-old shooter, Michael “20K Visuals” Burroughs, his pictures helped his reputation come before he even stepped in a room. Artists like Future and Meek Mill call him directly when they want him to photograph them, and knew about his work before they even knew him.
“My friend was like, ‘20K here.’ Meek was like, ‘Oh shit. Where that nigga at?’ We had never met. He was like, ‘I need everybody to put their cameras down,’” 20K Visuals told REVOLT TV.
For this installment of ‘Tour Tales,’ the Miami, Florida native talks helping Kodak Black rise from the ground up, the crazy things fans have done to get backstage and almost passing on the opportunity to shoot Meek Mill in Africa.
How did you and Kodak Black link up?
I got introduced to him by one of my homies. One of the biggest things was my turnaround times and effort. I really wanted to see him make it, bust out of Florida, and be somebody. I used to be on top of them shits. Right after the shows, I’d have Instagram flicks. Ten to fifteen minutes after the show, I was in the car editing shit.
Was there a specific memory from a song or a show, where you saw Kodak’s career change for the better?
When I first saw people singing ‘Skrt’ word-for-word. Seeing ‘No Flockin’ was one thing. But, to really be around the artist and see ‘Skrt’ going big, and Drake dancing on the jet to ‘Skrt,’ I just knew it was close to happening. The icing on the cake for the industry was ‘Lockjaw’. When he dropped that with French [Montana], he came with a statement that he was here, and here to stay.
What was on Kodak’s rider?
There wasn’t any rider when I was around. It was regular shit, like chicken wings and a bottle of liquor. I don’t know what it is now. He might want all types of shit (laughs).
What sort of relationship, as a photographer, do you establish with the artists you shoot regularly?
I don’t get hired for gigs or jobs through management and shit. I really be knowing these artists personally. I’ll get a text from Future like, ‘What are you doing tomorrow? I want you to fly out.’ Or Meek saying, ‘We got Vegas on Saturday.’ It ain’t no so-and-so saying, ‘Hey, I want to have you come out.’ It’s direct from the artist.
What is the most memorable show you’ve ever shot?
I’ll be doing shit with Meek in the car and look over at him like, ‘Damn, this shit is real. We really in South Africa filming.’
You shot Meek in Africa?
Yeah. I didn’t want to go at first. That flight is like 16 hours. I was like, ‘I can’t do that shit. It’s too far out.’ I almost didn’t do that shit. I almost called out. I’m glad I did it. I have to go back.
How’d you link with Meek?
He saw my work and I pulled up on him at a video shoot. My friend was like, ‘”20K here”.’ Meek was like, ‘Oh shit. Where that nigga at?’ We had never met. He was like, ‘I need everybody to put their cameras down. I only want him shooting right now. His shit fire.’ That was it. Game over.
You were with Meek on “The Motivation Tour” where a lot of big moments happened. How did you know where to be, to capture each moment?
When I hear that someone is there, I try to line myself up, depending on who it is. When Drake came out with Meek on tour, I didn’t know he was coming. I heard Drake might be there that night. But, I didn’t know which song he’d come out on. I just turned around, saw all the flashlights and shit coming, and I knew [it was him]. So, I had to get in position. I had to get the moment.
Have you ever had to do different shows in different cities, in a short period of time?
The day I landed back in the U.S. from Africa, I had a Tee Grizzley video I did. My shit really be back to back. I shot Tee Grizzley today [on July 3], flying back to Miami to do City Girls on Friday [July 5], then Saturday [July 6] in Vegas with Meek. Then, City Girls on Sunday for Essence Festival.
Did you shoot City Girls before JT went away to prison?
Yeah. I shot a little bit with them when they first came out. I got a good relationship with Southside and Yung Miami. It’s going to be lit when JT comes home.
Do you remember shooting a show with both JT and Miami?
I remember shooting a show at G5ive [event] in Miami, which was one of their first hosting. This was when the city was first coming out. That shit was pretty crazy. New artists like City Girls back then, sometimes have shows more lit than the veterans. I feel like the energy is new.
You have also shot a lot of Kash Doll’s live shows. From what you’ve seen, what is a Kash Doll show like?
Kash Doll hits the stage like a dude. She hit the stage like Meek Mill. Her confidence level is on 1000.
Out of all the shows you’ve shot for artists, what is the craziest thing you’ve seen a fan do?
Make fake passes to get backstage and get caught. People try to [do that] for the tour. Sometimes it works and they get in. But… I’ve seen a few people kicked out from backstage.
You capture a lot of lifestyle photography for major artists like Future and Meek. What other personal experiences have you been part of?
I did some shit with Yo Gotti one night. He got on the yacht at three in the morning just chopping it up… just riding through Miami on a yacht. Yo Gotti and Meek Mill are two of the realest in the game in terms of opportunities provided. They’re 100 with it. Within the first month of me linking with Meek, he let me shoot for his Wins & Losses album and gave me credits in the back of the album and all. That shit was crazy.
What are some mistakes you’ve made early in your photography career, that you try not to do now?
Moving fast. All types of shit happens when you’re not moving the right way. You can lose cards and get shit stolen. I’ve had bags stolen with hard drives in the bags. I’ve lost cameras. I’ve had SD cards get full and all my other cards were full, so I recorded with my phone. I didn’t have my flash one time and had to use my phone light.
As artists get bigger and perform more, it seems as if there are more people getting into photography just to shoot them. Have you noticed that?
Yeah. We’re in a different time where some artists are open-minded to having people around getting content. Da Baby has three camera people. Moneybagg Yo does shit like that. Meek is big with shit like that. Future is big with shit like that. Some people really give it a chance for the culture to grow.
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