Photo: John Canon
  /  07.30.2019

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.’

Marcus “Marc B” Bennett and 21 Savage rarely rehearse before shows, but are always in sync. Over the years, the 24-year-old DJ has been extremely integral to Savage’s live shows.

“Before, it was a bunch of people onstage to get the crowd hype. Then, he got to the point where he was like, ‘Aight, Marc B. I trust you. It’s going to be me and you,’” Marc B told REVOLT TV. “So, he’s really going out there like, ‘Shit, whatever Marc B going to do is going to make sense.’”

In this installment of Tour Tales, Savage’s longtime DJ explains performing without rehearsing, the evolution of the rapper’s show, and how great the two of them are as Spades partners.

How did you first link with 21 Savage?

[21 Savage’s co-manager] Meezy was throwing parties at Mansion [Elan in Atlanta]. I actually heard Savage for the first time in a car at Georgia State. I was like, ‘That shit is hard.’ Then, when Meezy became his manager, I was like, ‘Bet. Then, I’m just going to automatically do something [with them]. He didn’t really come on some ‘We need a DJ.’ It was more on the, ‘Hey, bro. I got this homie. He’s dope. Here’s his record.’ I just took it into my own hands.

Your first tour with Savage was the ‘HIHORSE’D Tour’ with Young Thug in 2016. What was that change like for you, lifestyle-wise, from going from being in college to being on the road in a matter of months?

I was supposed to go on the [Parental Advisory] tour with [Lil Uzi Vert] and [YFN] Lucci. I was going to say, ‘Fuck school’ even before that. But, I was like, ‘It’s only six more months. I can knock it out.’ So, when they came to me, I could just go. Savage and I’s relationship onstage is unlike anybody else’s because other people rehearse. They’ve spent their whole life trying to be a rapper.

In the beginning, we didn’t understand the same shit somebody who practiced their whole life did. We’re not doing rehearsals. We’re just pulling up to shows. I think we probably did one or two rehearsals. Now that it’s big, it’s different. Back then, we never did rehearsals.

On that first tour with Thug, you didn’t rehearse at all?

We did zero rehearsals. I’d go there and check the mics for soundcheck. Savage told everyone what he did, he was in it for the money. Now, he sees it like, ‘Yeah. Now, I got something going. I need to put some more effort into my show.’

When you were on that first tour with Thug, Savage’s song ‘X’ with Future went platinum. Did you notice any change to the reaction to those songs as the tour was going on, and his songs were getting more success?

Yeah, you could easily tell. But, I feel like the fact of it going platinum didn’t matter. I feel like a lot of songs go platinum and people don’t really listen to them. The difference with Savage was ‘Red Opps’ was in the streets. Nobody was fucking with Savage [back then]. If you heard Savage back in the day, he was talking about shooting people’s mommas. People weren’t promoting it, especially radio stations, because it was too explicit.

I don’t know if ‘Red Opps’ went gold or platinum. But, that song was so lit with no radio play. Then, he comes back with ‘X’ and that blows up just off of the Instagram snippet. So, it was already lit before it went platinum. So, as soon as the song dropped, people were already in love with it.

Before Savage was a Billboard star, he commanded a lot of attention in Atlanta. What were some memorable shows from that era that illustrate how big he was before he had a hit?

One party at Museum Bar. They closed that down in Atlanta. I think it was for Christmas [2015]. The venue was two stories, but at the top story, you can see the whole bottom level. He performs there one time. It was at capacity at midnight. That’s how lit it is. The whole crowd knew his song. This was before he was touring and all of that. This was right after ‘Red Opps’ dropped.

Your relationship with Savage is closer than simply a hired DJ. So, given your friendship, what are some fun things y’all do on tour?

Every tour, we got a different thing going on. For the first two tours straight, it was [NBA] 2K. That’s all we did. That’s when [Steph] Curry and the Warriors were lit. I started whooping people’s ass, so I had to quit. I’m dead-ass serious. I had to stop playing because people would get too mad. You can’t play with hood niggas. Then, everyone was on the Call of Duty wave. I’m not with that. So, he’ll have his Call of Duty set up, go play for a little bit and duck off.

For this tour, we’re doing Spades. We play Spades every tour. I don’t come out and whoop everybody’s ass because they might feel some type of way. So, you have to make them feel like they’re winning a little bit. Then, you come out and do your thing.

How are you and Savage as Spades partners?

I feel like we’re Penny [Hardaway] and Shaq. I feel he got the leeway. If he’s feeling it tonight or not feeling it, I’m going to take his vibe and do whatever he needs me to do. If he needs me to chill one night, I’m going to chill. If he ain’t got it, I got it.

Do you and 21 ever choose to perform songs that aren’t his most popular?

A song like ‘Rap Saved Me’ is a great song. That’s not a good song that I like to perform on tour even though it may have a lot of streams. It ain’t about the plays or the numbers, it’s about the feeling it gives you. ‘Rap Saved Me’ might have more plays, but if he performs ‘ball w/o you’ that might get a way better reaction.

DJ Marc B (left), 21 Savage (right)

Looking back at your time with Savage, what are some things you messed up in the beginning that you’d never do again?

I’ve fucked up before, multiple times. I’m going to tell you my biggest fuck up. On the first tour, you remember how I told you we didn’t rehearse? At Rolling Loud in Miami [in 2017], it was my first time doing Rolling Loud. I do Savage’s verses only. So, if he performs any song with a feature, I’m going to edit the song, cut shit up and make it so I’m not hitting cues or anything. It just flows freely, so he doesn’t have to worry about it not being on beat.

First fuck up was when I cut off [the beat for] ‘Red Opps.’ On the second verse, he was going to do the verse acapella. Once he did it acapella, I was supposed to come back and bring the beat back in. I was jumping up and down, and Rolling Loud has this shit where if you jump your computer is jumping, too. I’m trying to bring the beat back in, but I’m jumping at the same time, and I tried to press the shit to get it back on cue and I double tapped. It started and stopped. The crowd didn’t know, but Savage knew.

Then, I fucked up again in the same set. I thought I was going to get fired. It was during another Savage song, ‘Gucci On My,’ and we’re bringing YG out. I didn’t know we were bringing YG out. I’m already playing the record and they come to me like, ‘Hey, YG about to come out.’ I told you earlier, I only have Savage’s verses.’ So, now, I’m scrambling on my computer, find the complete song, find where on the song YG’s verse is without any headphones, and then time it where I can get it on beat when YG comes out.

Listen, YG walks out and I can’t get it on cue. It’s a new song, so he doesn’t really know his verse like that. He walks out, starts saying a couple of words, and he thinks the song is about to come back and there was nothing left. He’s looking back and I’m like, ‘Oh my God.’ Then, Savage looks at me. After that, I didn’t even want to explain it. I had to take that L but, after that, I’ve done at least 150 shows with Savage and never fucked up again. Savage would let me fuck up and we could still build because our relationship is different. I’m deeper than a nigga coming out there to press a button.

Savage was so big before he had a hit that there are many songs that were never singles that get great reactions live, which I call ‘tour hits.’ What are his tour hits?

When we used to do ‘Dip Dip’ [from Slaughter King], there’s a lot more Savage fans who don’t know that era of Savage and that’s not to discredit them. Songs like that and ‘Mad High’ [from Savage Mode] used to go up. ‘Ocean Drive’ [from Savage Mode], as well.

On the ‘I Am > I Was Tour,’ what songs from the album get the biggest reactions?

‘Ball w/o you.’ I feel like it’s going to get everybody going crazy and when people hear the song coming in, you get that instant ‘ahhh.’

How has Savage’s rider changed over the years?

It’s way better. Before we just ate a bunch of bullshit. But, the tours got better. The first tour, they were on Lucci’s sprinter bus. Next tour, they get their own tour bus. Next time, we got two tour buses. Next time, we got a studio bus and another tour bus. Before then, we ate a whole bunch of fast food. We had Campbell’s noodles and shit like that.

Now, we have a lot more vegan stuff because we have a lot of vegans on our tour. We have no pork or beef. Don’t get me wrong, he’s Savage. So, he’ll get Ruth’s Chris or Benihana’s sometimes (laughs). If push comes to shove, we’ll get a cup of noodles, cook that and call it a day instead of going to McDonald’s all the time. Now, we watch what we eat and put in our bodies.

As a DJ, how has your role changed as Savage’s effort into his shows has grown over the years?

Before, it was a bunch of people onstage to get the crowd hype. Then, he got to the point where he was like, ‘Aight, Marc B. I trust you. It’s going to be me and you.’ I told you we don’t rehearse. So, he’s really going out there like, ‘Shit, whatever Marc B going to do is going to make sense.’

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