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 Skid Row wasn’t always behind the turntables for A$AP Twelvyy, but he was always in the mix with A$AP Mob. The longtime friend, born Shayne Rowe, knew key Mob members before the fame, so he was in the perfect position when Twelvyy finally wanted a DJ.
“He asked me, ‘Would you mind being my DJ?’ I thought about it like, ‘I’m always around. I’ve been in the studio with these niggas. Why not pursue something,’” Skid Row told REVOLT. “That’s when it popped off. I got the mixer, started studying up, and it took me two months to get enough skill to start doing shows.”
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” Skid Row explains what happened at Yams Day that fans didn’t get to see, how Coronavirus affected Twelvyy’s tour, and what he and the rapper have planned once the pandemic ends.
You became Twelvyy’s DJ in 2018. How did you two first link up?
I knew him before it started. I was friends with him [A$AP] Illz and [A$AP] Bari when I was about 16, 17. When smoking became really cool for us, we used to go half on dimes. I met Twelvyy when I was about 18 years old around 2007, 2008. We literally lived the next train stop from each other…I went to school with one of his mans. We used to meet up on Castle Hill and I met him in a cipher.
What were those early A$AP Mob shows like?
Honestly, I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe how many people lined up and paid to see my friends rap. I remember one day we were at [A$AP] Nast crib in Harlem and they were like, “Niggas is really about to pay us to rap.” We were more fashion back then. They were doing the rap shit for fun. I didn’t think it would happen to this level. One of the first shows I went to, we were literally all onstage, high-fiving fans. It was crazy. It was a dream come true.
The late A$AP Yams was the architect of the Mob. What was his involvement in the live shows?
If it wasn’t for Yams, none of this shit would happen. Yams was the Yoda behind the scenes and a lot of people won’t see that unless you were behind the scenes. To the world, he was straight Henny bottles, party time, and girls. But, he was really a mastermind. He connected a lot of minds and made us one Mob. Twelvyy wasn’t going to rap. Then, Yams heard him rapping and was like, “Bro, what are you doing? Why would you not rap? You’re nice.” That really inspired Twelvyy to rap and he’s prospering until now.
You didn’t start deejaying for them until 2018. Why did it take you so long?
I hate myself for it, as well. I was just there because they were my friends. I wasn’t looking for a handout, money, or any of that. One year, Twelvyy was like, “It would be fire if I had a DJ.” He asked me, “Would you mind being my DJ?” I thought about it like, “I’m always around. I’ve been in the studio with these niggas. Why not pursue something?” That’s when it popped off. I got the mixer, started studying up, and it took me two months to get enough skill to start doing shows.
What was your first show?
It was at Alabama University. I was nervous. I used to do practices in my crib like I was talking to the crowd. I wasn’t a shy person in front of people. I’m really social and I’m able to talk in front of large crowds. But, I didn’t want to mess up his image. The first show was great, he congratulated [me], and was like, “I didn’t think I needed a DJ.” But, having me back there helps him feel more comfortable out there instead of feeling alone.
What mistakes did you make early on?
One of the first mistakes I did was I didn’t follow the setlist. I followed the setlist, but I didn’t pay attention to it correctly. One of the songs I dropped was one of the songs he wasn’t expecting, so he turned around and got mad at me. That was the second show, I think. It was learning experience. You have to get mad at your friends sometimes, so I wasn’t mad at that. I learned to be more focused. By the fifth show, I felt like him and I had chemistry.
How would you describe an A$AP Twelvyy show?
Straight energy and involvement. He loves energy, especially with his new album that just dropped, Before Noon. I can’t wait until this corona thing is over. We’re definitely going on tour with that.
Speaking of Coronavirus, did you two have shows or a tour planned?
We actually had two shows set up. We had one in Japan that we were supposed to go to, but that got cancelled. We had a headlining show in Philly that got cancelled. It’s slowing up the shows.
Looking at Before Noon, what songs on that project are you the most excited to perform live?
He definitely wants to perform “Girl You A Star” for the ladies. On the turn up side, “Baby Driver.” Also, “Caught Up” is a nice song he wanted to perform. At least half the album will be on the setlist. A lot of the songs on there are songs that already came out and will be on the new setlist.
What’s been your most memorable show with Twelvyy?
We had a show in Belgium and was one of the biggest crowds I’ve ever been in front of. It was outside, under a tent, and the mosh pit was crazy. The way they had the flashing lights looked real inspirational.
You two performed in Australia. What was that like?
We had about six or seven shows lined up. We had a couple of club shows, as well. It was a real different experience. But, it was awesome because they all speak English over there. It was a lot easier to deal with than going to somewhere like China. They really loved “Bill Collector.” I think “Coziest” turns them up the most. Of course the classic “Hella Hoes” turns them up.
What are some local excursions you two went on there?
We went around a couple of food spots. We had a couple of guys drive us around, but we also did our own exploration. We walked on the beach and saw a whole bunch of crazy stuff. They basically have the same food out there as we have here, but it’s really different seasoning. But, there’s a lot of New York-inspired stuff out there. There’s a whole restaurant called Brooklyn with fire food. Another crazy moment was when Coolio brought us out on stage with him when he performed “Gangsta’s Paradise.” It was crazy.
How dedicated is Twelvyy to his performances?
We definitely rehearse because we want to put on a perfect show for the fans. We run over the set before the show. We pray before the show just to make sure everything is alright.
What would you say was the most memorable fan interaction Twelvyy had at a show?
I think it was my sixth show at a college and he had a fan come up, and she started crying… It was really inspirational to see how touched she was to just be so close to Twelvyy. He gave her a hug, smiled, and kept the show going.
How has your role changed over the years?
I became a lot more comfortable as a DJ. I even started producing a year and a half ago. I have a lot of placements on his new album. The producer life is a whole other aspect of this music business.
What’s the hardest part about touring?
The traveling and living out of a suitcase, especially when you’re on 10-15 hour flights. I’m 6’4, so if I don’t get that good airplane space, I’m going to be upset (laughs).
What happened at this year’s Yams Day show that fans didn’t get to see?
Rih Rih (Rihanna) was there. Drake was there. It was one of the only events to happen this year, so it was definitely historic. Mama Yams had her own custom suit made and switched between two outfits during the show, and people probably don’t even know. We had the backstage camera setup with [A$AP] Rocky doing his talks with everybody that came in. We had comedians coming backstage. A lot of people didn’t come to the front of the stage, so a lot of fans probably didn’t see them. We had a lot of good energy backstage. Drake didn’t come to the front stage. Rihanna wasn’t really seen out there. Every year is different celebrities that pop up. We do it for Yams.
How have you seen Rocky support Twelvyy over the years?
Rocky pulled up to Twelvyy’s first show in The Bronx. That was actually one of the show Twelvyy introduced Smooky [Margielaa] to Rocky. Smooky was actually some little ass kid outside. We didn’t know what he was doing. Then, he said, “I can rap,” so Twelvyy told him he’d give him a chance and introduced him to Rocky.
What is special about A$AP Mob’s performances?
An A$AP Mob performance is like when the Power Rangers come together and turn into the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. Them niggas together are unstoppable. They’re a mix between Wu-Tang and Dipset. They’re the new generation. Hopefully, in the future, we get an A$AP Mob tour. It would be amazing to bring the family back together.
How has Twelvyy’s show improved over the years?
He’s improved greatly. He comes up with concepts and certain ways to get the crowd involved. He wants to make it worth their money. A lot of rappers get so comfortable, they’ll just stand still and rap. They won’t even break a sweat during their performance. Twelvyy is drenched in sweat like he just worked out. That’s what I’ve seen him grow into as a man.