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.’
From 2013 until Nipsey Hussle’s untimely death in 2019, few people worked closer with the late West Coast rap legend than DJ VIP. On the one year anniversary of the rapper’s death, VIP would’ve loved to have had a huge celebration of Nip’s life, but life got in the way.
“I would’ve loved to have us come together to put on a show, but before we could even start discussing it, everything with the corona[virus] stuff started happening. When we started to move on things, everything was shutting down,” he told us.
In this special installment of “Tour Tales,” Nipsey’s longtime DJ explains how he stays connected to the late rapper’s family, why some of Nip’s unreleased music is eerily prophetic, and more. Read below.
What was your last show with Nip?
I think it was right after All-Star Weekend. It was a quick spot date. It wasn’t anything crazy. At that time, we were getting ready for a rollout, so the focus wasn’t on shows.
He passed three months after we did your first Tour Tales interview. In those three months, what shows did you two do together?
That was almost a year after we released Victory Lap, and we were gearing up for the next round of music and knocking off whatever spot dates we didn’t get to attack [on] “The Victory Lap Tour.” What stands out to me the most is that last trip we went on for All-Star Weekend to Charlotte, North Carolina. That was about [5 ½ weeks] before everything happened. That was the last time we all collectively traveled. It happened to be one of the longer trips because All-Star Weekend starts Saturday and we started gearing up for it that Thursday, so we were together from that Thursday until Monday. What really made it memorable is that we all flew back home on the Puma jet.
A little backstory: There was one time Nipsey and I were coming home from a show. That show, specifically, had something click in my mind like, “Damn, he’s a superstar, but people don’t see it yet.” We were about to fly home Southwest and he had the middle seat. We’re flying the most economic airline possible and he has the worst seat. So, I’m thinking, “I can’t let this fool sit in the middle. I’d be playing myself.” I told him, “Hey, take this window. I’m not even tripping.” He was like, “Bro, we 100 [grand] a show, so we can fly in a jet.” I don’t know if it inspired the song [“A Hunnit A Show”], but it came out before the song. Once we got to that point where we were getting those big numbers, sure enough, we fly private.
What else do you remember about Nipsey’s demeanor during that All-Star Weekend trip?
I remember him asking me, “Bro, you good?” I was kicking back, chilling, and not doing much. I was like, “You know me. I’m just ducked off, chilling. Talking to a bunch of people from Roc Nation.” He saw I was not being as open as I usually am. Him being who he is, he wanted to make sure I was straight. At that time, we had a conversation, someone captured the photo, and that was the last photo we took together of us talking. The last photo I have of Nip and myself in it was the infamous picture of him looking out the window in the PJs, and he’s wearing the Blue Puma suit and I’m sitting behind him.
Victory Lap actually came out during All-Star Weekend in 2019. What do you remember about the album release party?
The release party went without a hitch. We had 1500 or Nothin’ playing alongside me. We brought out Puff, which was something that wasn’t known about until that night. It was discussed, but there were a lot of things we needed to have locked in because we had a band. You don’t just wing a show with a band. A lot of it is composed and really put together in a manner where the rehearsal is how the show is supposed to go. It’s not meant for audibles or anything like that. So, it was tricky not knowing what guests were going to come out. Pretty much everyone who was on the album came out.
He understood what the moment meant. You can see in a lot of photos he had a straight face. Every now and then you’ll see him laughing. He was still charismatic Nip for sure. But, I had been with him when we were doing a couple of hundred person venues to selling out The Palladium for the release party. So, I think we all knew what was expected of us.
We’ve got verses from Nipsey on other people’s albums since his passing. Any plans for posthumous music?
First of all, if any music ever comes out, it’s going to be with the blessing of Sam [Asghedom] (Nipsey’s brother) and the family. So, at this point, that’s something they would have to answer. Right now, there’s a ton of Nipsey music that hasn’t been released that is original Nipsey music. But, that’s up to them. At this point, there are no plans for anything to come out in the immediate future.
Is there an unreleased song you’ve heard that you hope gets released?
Hell yeah. There are a couple that is sickly chilling. To hear them in the context of now, it sounds like he knew his future. I won’t go into too many details on what it is, but you can tell that he was just tapped into something else. He wasn’t saying a bunch of stuff in every song just to say every situation is applicable to him. He was painting very clear pictures. There’s a couple of songs that are really eerie to hear because of the context of the situation now.
Since his passing, what tributes have you done for him onstage?
Every time I perform, I always do an onslaught of 10-15 Nipsey records, depending on what the vibe is. I always make sure to give him a place on my set. I had done several festivals. One of them was Welcome To The West Festival (on September 20, 2019). That meant a lot to me because we had performed at that festival the year prior. Obviously it was heavy on my heart having to go in the same place and doing the same stuff I usually did with him, but this time without him. That gave me motivation to knock it out of the park. So, I called J. Stone, Pacman, Cobby [Supreme], Dom Kennedy, and made sure we honored him the same way he’d want to be honored. The only reason we were on that stage was because of the opportunities he gave us. We’ve been trying to make sure that whenever we do anything, it’s a big moment. We don’t want to do Nipsey tributes to water them out.
What artists have reached out to show love to Nipsey since his death?
I’ve had an onslaught of artists reach out, but the one who went over and beyond is definitely Dom. They had a great relationship and cooked a lot of records together. The first exclusive Nipsey ever gave me was a song with him and Dom called “Don’t Forget Us.” That was the first thing he ever leaked out that gave me the opportunity to show my reach and what I was capable of, as far as moving music around. I’ve also been working with Bino [Rideaux]. He’s someone who reached out to say he wants to continue what we started.
What plans did you have for future shows with him?
We were just going to do spot dates. All of the big cities we hit on tour were big markets that could satisfy the minimum we needed for the production of the show that we put on. We were able to double back and do different places we didn’t get to hit. Unfortunately, the band didn’t come with us. That was part of the problem, some of these venues couldn’t fit the band or weren’t big enough to meet our requirements to cover the band, LED walls, and the production we put into the show. So, we did a scaled-down spot date run that was just Nip and I rocking it. It was a very similar set to the “Victory Lap Tour,” just without the band.
Were there ever any shows that didn’t happen?
There are shows we missed due to weather and things like that. Nipsey was always good about showing up. His previous persona, back in the day, had a bad history of gigs having to be canceled due to what comes along with his name. A lot of that was happening around 2010-2011. I came into his team in 2013. That’s when he started to really clean himself up, his appearance, and how he carried himself. He started to mature in the music he started to make. That’s when we started to see a direct increase in the frequency of bookings, price of the bookings, and things of that nature. If gigs got canceled, they weren’t because of him not showing up or being late. It was usually because of something that was out of his control. We definitely had events where the city tried to shut him down. Promoters were telling us how the police contacted the club and don’t want us to do the event.
Have there been talks of a Nipsey Hussle tribute show?
People have brought it up, but there isn’t anything slated as an official Nipsey Hussle/All Money In show that’s fully co-signed by the brand and has the blessing of Sam. With this being the one year anniversary and the whole shutdown happening, we’re just going to have to honor him from our homes and mourn with whoever we’re with because we can’t get together. I would’ve loved to have us come together to put on a show, but before we could even start discussing it, everything with the corona[virus] stuff started happening. When we started to move on things, everything was shutting down. His granny’s older, and so is Nip’s father and mother. We just have to look out for them and not be selfish by saying we want to come together to honor, and celebrate Nipsey just to do it when there’s a pandemic going around, and Nip having elderly people still around.
Are there any memories you have with Nipsey that show how dedicated he was to his family?
One that’s always stuck with me and is a great example of him as a father is when I was in his hotel room, and we were going over the songs for a show. He got a call from Emani. He didn’t think twice. He said, “Hold on, bro. Give me a second. This is my daughter.” He got on the phone with E, she’s talking with him about school, and I remember she said something about how something was hard, and she couldn’t do it. I remember him giving her so much motivation and love. You could hear her energy go from unsure to being sure of herself. To see how he motivated his daughter and took the time to make sure his daughter was straight, I know people don’t do that, especially when you’re 30 minutes from doing a show. He always made sure his family and loved ones were good before anything.
Have you been in contact with his family since his passing?
I reach out to Lauren [London] quite frequently. I always let her know I’m thinking of her and sending her love. Whenever I feel like I get little blessings, I always remind her that Nipsey is still around us and still blessing us. When it was Emani’s birthday, I got her and the kids a lifetime membership to the L.A. Zoo because I feel they need a little bit more kid things to do, especially when you’re young and have two parents that are celebrities. I can only imagine how much of your childhood gets lost in the madness. Then, to have your father murdered in such a public way, it’s easy for a child in that situation to get robbed of their childhood or be put in a position where it’s hard to be a kid. They’re forced to grow up early. We all need to be extended parents to those kids.