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 Rock Steddy has been deejaying since 2007. But, it wasn’t until he saw Young Dolph’s grind bubbling in 2010 from the undergrounds of Memphis to the clubs that his touring legacy began. Since then, 31-year-old has been Dolph’s DJ since the rapper started performing live and they’ve built a brotherhood from the stage.
“I can kind of read his mind. He can read mine,” Rock Steddy told REVOLT TV. “That’s my brother and it’s deeper than rap. He can stop doing music tomorrow and he’ll be my brother for life.”
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” Rock Steddy discusses the love Dolph gets from fans at shows, hitting the road with the rapper right after his own wedding and a possible Dolph/Key Glock tour.
How did you and Young Dolph link up?
I was deejaying a lot of events in Memphis. I had four or five clubs I was doing every week in Memphis. Dolph was doing his thing in the street. His campaign was heavy. Before I got with him, he already had a heavy street presence. I genuinely liked what he was doing. This was probably around 2009-2010. It just clicked. It wasn’t anything we talked about, it just happened. I remember we were hitting all the clubs in the chitlin circuit. We were running around the south doing little venues with 400-500 people.
How long did it take you and Dolph to develop your chemistry onstage?
Honestly, probably after the first year. We immediately read each other, but after doing more shows, I can kind of read his mind. He can read mine. We give each other room to do what we do. That’s my brother and it’s deeper than rap. He can stop doing music tomorrow and he’ll be my brother for life.
What are some mistakes the two of you made onstage that helped you get to where you are right now?
Really just being prepared. Starting out, you’ll play smaller venues and your equipment rider may be nonexistent and you have to work with what they got. You might get to a spot, they have a bullshit setup, and you have to figure out how to make that work no matter what. I had to figure that out fast. I know now to come prepared.
Once y’all got that chemistry, Dolph’s show started to become one of the best out. Am I mistaken or was he performing on roller skates at one point?
Nah, you saw him on a hover-board. That’s when hover-boards were just getting poppin’. We did a show in St. Louis and nobody knew he was going to roll out onstage on a hover-board.
The ‘Royalty Tour’ with Live Nation was your first major one. What did you both learn from that?
We learned timing, as far as building a setlist and learning the type of songs the crowds vibe out to. Finding out where to put the energy, where to slow it down and where to bring it back up. It helped us get a better sense of different audiences across the map.
How has your role as a DJ in his show evolved over the years?
Over the years, when we discuss going over the setlist, he trusts my suggestions as far as if I want to move a song up or down in a setlist. He trusts my judgment and goes along with it.
That’s a level of trust that only comes from having a genuine bond. I saw he was at your wedding. You said Dolph stays booked. How long after your wedding were you back on the road with him?
Probably within a week. He came off the road to come to my wedding. He left a show and came straight to Memphis.
Since you’ve been with him from the start, how has his rider changed?
In the beginning, the whole Paper Route motto was, ‘Go get the money.’ For those that don’t know, Dolph’s not really a drinker. So, he doesn’t care about bottles and liquor. He just wants the money. He is going to pull up, rock the show, and the money you were going to spend on the rider, he wanted that. Now, we have a team and entourage.
So, now he has to have his gold bottles. He has to have his cheese, crackers, and turkey. Everybody knows that’s him. So, you better not touch his cheese, crackers, and turkey or you’re going to have hell to pay.
Before he had Billboard success, Dolph had mixtapes out. ‘Tour hits’ are songs that get the reactions of big singles, but weren’t singles. What are his tour hits?
‘Get Paid’ and ‘Pull Up.’ You also got ‘16 Zips,’ which is a classic mixtape track that, to this day, the diehard fans will go crazy for. Also, ‘Royalty’ and ‘Forever’ with T.I. ‘Preach’ is his #1 all-time street classic. They sing it acapella, word-for-word, live.
What’s the most memorable show you’ve deejayed for Young Dolph?
Our first Rolling Loud [in December 2017]. That was after he had got shot [in October 2017]. That was the first big show. The anticipation was there. Everyone wanted to see if he was still good and if he still had it. We put all of that to rest. Dolph stays booked more than a signed artist. For the past four years, he’s been doing shows every weekend, year-round. The only time he gets off is when he purposely takes time off to get ready for the next project. Rolling Loud wasn’t just another show. It showed we made it. He was a headliner and independent.
Did that shooting change anything in terms of security?
Not really. Dolph is not like that. He’s not built like that. He’s a different breed. He keeps his boys around him. He feels like everything happens for a reason and he just rolls with it.
I remember seeing pictures of him and Nipsey at South by Southwest (SXSW) in 2016. What was their relationship like and how was it at that event?
They were really cool. They had already done music together. I met Nipsey through Dolph. I didn’t know him well, but I met him once before when Dolph and I were at Nipsey’s studio in L.A. He was really cool and down to earth. He was a humble dude. At SXSW, I remember it was an outside event and Nipsey had performed right before us. I think O.T. Genasis was there, too. It was a really good vibe.
Speaking of O.T., that ‘Cut It’ song is probably the biggest song Dolph’s been on in terms of sales. What did it do in live shows?
‘Cut It’ went platinum, so it’s a catalog hit record. People love hearing that verse. I think it took Dolph one take to lay that verse. He may have laid that verse in 10-15 minutes and it ended up being one of his biggest records to date.
That Key Glock and Dolph project, Dum & Dummer, is getting a lot of attention. What’s up with that joint tour?
Man, stay tuned (laughs).
Were any of the songs for that project recorded while Dolph was on the road?
Only one, ‘Juicy.’ That’s one of his solo songs. Anything with him and Glock [were] recorded together. He did ‘Juicy’ a few weeks [from August 5]. Funny story is he recorded the whole song laying down in his hotel room.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen a fan do for Dolph at a show?
They give him so much. They give him artwork, they give him shoes, they give him weed, they give him toys for his kids, they give him a lot of love. I think the people who [buy] tickets to come to the show know what it took for him to get on those big stages. They’re responsible for that. It’s not a major record label that’s putting him on these tours. It was a fight to get to that stage in that city and in that time. They’re a part of the reason he got to where he is.
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