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 nearly a decade, DJ Boof has been the main DJ for Nicki Minaj and Fabolous. Knowing them since their mixtape days, the hip hop veteran has seen their crowds get bigger and the fans get crazier.
“The craziest thing I’ve seen is someone gets her face tattooed on their body. That’s a superfan,” DJ Boof told REVOLT with a hearty laugh. “I love her to death, but I don’t think I can tattoo my favorite artist on my body.”
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” Nicki Minaj’s longtime DJ discusses her perfectionism on tour, deejaying for Fabolous, Nicki’s boxing skills, and much more.
How did you link up with Nicki Minaj?
I’ve known Nicki for 10-12 years. We’re both from New York. She’s from Queens, I’m from Brooklyn. We’re both Trinidadian. I saw her do her thing on the mixtape scene. She was a young rapper and I was a young DJ. There was a DJ before me, but we connected near the very beginning. The first show we did together was at Villanova University (on October 25, 2013).
By then, she’d already put out two albums and was a huge star. But, was still a new artist, relatively. Is there anything you helped Nicki with on her live show?
Nicki had experience already because she went to school for performing arts. She’s an artist. She had all these things already. I didn’t have to do anything. She knows how to work a stage. She knows how to remember her lyrics. She knows about having TV tracks. She’s an artist and was born for that.
How involved is she in her live show?
She’s very involved. She knows what she wants. She knows the crowd. She knows what songs are going to work. She knows the lighting. She’s somewhat like a perfectionist. She loves her fans and knows what moments she wants to capture for them.
You’ve been all over the world with Nicki. What was a memorable show you both did overseas?
Africa was a great experience for her and for me. Some of the people in the crowd spoke their native languages, but they knew her songs word for word.
Even the best DJ/artist pairings have slip-ups that are teachable moments. What is a mistake that happened at one of her shows?
Yeah, we all make mistakes. No one is perfect. Sometimes the mistakes aren’t noticeable to the fans. I may be half a second off on a scratch or there’s a delay in the sound and I say something offbeat. I might throw her off and that could throw the whole show off. Luckily, she’s such a professional that only her and I would know if there was a hiccup, and we’d speak about it afterward.
There was this iHeartRadio Festival show (on September 19, 2014) we did where something had happened with the sound. She looked at me asked, ‘Boof, is there something wrong with the music?’ I said, ‘I think there is something wrong with the music. I think the sound cut off.’ She said, ‘Well, I can do this a capella.’ She looked at me. I looked at her. We knew what time it was. She turned around and killed the a capella. That became the highlight of the whole entire festival.
She probably has the most diehard fanbase. What’s the craziest reaction you’ve seen a fan have after seeing Nicki at a show?
The craziest thing I’ve seen is someone gets her face tattooed on their body. That’s a superfan (laughs). I love her to death, but I don’t think I can tattoo my favorite artist on my body.
What’s on her rider?
It can change. She’s West Indian, so she likes her fruits. There’s always mangoes and fruits back there. She’ll catch me stealing them and I’ll ask, ‘Hey, can I have some?’ She’ll be like, ‘Yeah, sure (laughs).’
You two seem to have a friendship beyond the DJ/artist relationship. Is there a moment on a tour that reflects that?
It’s always fun with her. It’s never a dull moment. It’s always jokes and laughing. She has a huge sense of humor. There was this one time she had on boxing gloves. We were rehearsing and then, I came off the set. She started throwing jabs at me. But, the way she started throwing jabs at me had me like, ‘Yo, girls don’t throw jabs like that. You’re throwing jabs like a real boxer.’ Most guys when they play fight, they’re not trying to connect. She almost connected and it almost hit me (laughs).
You’ve also deejayed for Fabolous. How is it putting together a show with him?
I don’t know if it’s a New York thing, but Fab is the same way [as Nicki]. He knows what he wants. With Nicki and Fab, they’re very creative and they want your opinion. Fab would say, ‘Hey Boof, let me know what crowd is like out there. Do you think this song might work?’ If a song doesn’t work, we’ll get out of it real quick. Nicki and Fab are never afraid to try new material because they’re professional, and know how to get in and out of songs.
What Fab song gets the biggest reaction live?
It depends on what he’s going for. If it’s for the females, ‘So Into You’ and ‘Make Me Better.’ When you’re dealing with the fellas, you got ‘Breathe.’ Fab has a lot. He has too many.
What’s on his rider?
It changes, too. It might be a bottle of his favorite cognac or vodka. It could be a honey bun (laughs). Men are really simple. We don’t require that much.
What show really sticks out to you where you and Fab were locked in?
Recently, Fab and I did a show. I opened up and got the crowd lit. Fab and I, hands down, have the best rapper/artist show. I’d say the same thing for Nicki and I. The other day Fab and I had a show. It was back to back to back to back hit records. We tried something new and got the same energy for those as we did for the classics. Do you know how hard that is? They would learn the chorus as we were performing it.
What’s up in 2020 for Nicki and Fab?
That’s a good question. You’re trying to see what I know (laughs). I really don’t know. I would think they would be putting out more music and projects. They’re humans, so they may spend time with their family. I’ll still be deejaying clubs. I’ll be on live television deejaying talk shows. I have my own concert: The DJ Boof Experience. DJ Boof grind don’t stop.
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