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.’
D-Jack is called “The Master Hyphenate” because no one title can encompass what the vice president of marketing & strategic partnerships for Griselda Records does for the Buffalo rap empire. On tour, he does ten different jobs for the group, and that has put him in position to see special moments that others never will.
“Conway is wiping tears out his eyes and tells Hov, ‘Yo, my bad that I’m crying and s**t.’ Hov was like, ‘Nah, that’s good. That’s that emotion. That’s that pain. Don’t be afraid to let that out onstage,’” Jackson told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” Jackson details the first-ever Griselda live show, how COVID-19 affected touring, and which Griselda member you don’t want to play NBA 2K against. Read below.
How did you first link up with Griselda?
I graduated from McKinley Vocational High School and Buffalo State college. If you’re [from] Buffalo, you [knew] who Benny was. Conway was already rapping as Kannon. I didn’t know Westside Gunn personally at the time, but I knew of him. I managed Camouflage Monk when he rapped. Monk was the person who worked closely with West and once he got out of federal prison, they and Daringer worked on a lot of the Hitler Wears Hermes series. Specifically the first three.
He was the one who connected us. I was living in D.C. at the time. This was summer of 2014. Monk was serious about connecting us. He was like, “Yo, West said you can come to his house.” I came and ever since that day, we’ve clicked. We kept in touch.
What was the first Griselda show you helped with?
This was before any Griselda show. This was the first show as Griselda ever. We were in Cambridge at The Middle East Upstairs in July 2016. I was living in D.C. and I hit West like, “This show real?” He was like, “Yep.” So, I was like, “I’m pulling up.” West was like, “Bet. Bring your camera.” I hopped in the car, drove seven hours to Cambridge, and I’m working a big time corporate 9 to 5. I’m traveling the world to do my job.
I pulled up in Cambridge dolo. We mobbed through Cambridge all day. We hit the mall, Ruth Chris and toast it up. Conway gave the most important Griselda speech at the table. Then, that night, we had the show. I took some photos and helped out. It was sold out. I couldn’t believe that everyone was rapping word for word. The iconic part is West brought Benny out. Benny had no Griselda project out. All he had was his own s**t and it didn’t sound anything like Benny [the Butcher] now, but he was still spitting. It was just over trap beats. At that time, he had that verse on “Shower Shoe Lord” from Flygod and when he performed it, the place went nuts.
What was the “What Would Chine Gun Do Tour” like earlier this year before the pandemic?
The crazy part was I got sick as hell on that tour and I didn’t start feeling better until the end of that tour. I didn’t get a test, so I won’t say what that sickness was. But, Westside Gunn said he had [COVID-19] and I’m guessing I probably did too, but I can’t confirm that. That tour was a ride. This was the first tour when we had real sponsorships, the power of Roc Nation behind us, Interscope and Shady supporting. And that was the first tour where we actually had a tour bus (laughs). Shout out to Puma. Puma sort of financed that tour bus.
That tour, to me, was when I realized the machine is behind us. Touring with Griselda is about 50 or 60 Buffalo homies on the road, so it’s always going to be grimy and some hood s**t going on (laughs).
The tour ended a week before major companies suspended touring for the year. Was COVID-19 a cause for concern?
It really became a thing after the tour, but we really started to think about it once we got to L.A. at The Novo. Chace Infinite was wearing a mask and it put me on. He be on his heavy five percent s**t. I was just starting to feel better from being sick most of the tour. At that show, Hov and Emory [Jones] pull up. I think the Lakers played the Milwaukee Bucks that night. Everything just shifted. The aura and energy was different. I had to move people from this side of the backstage to the other side.
He stayed for the whole show. He didn’t just dip out and disappear. He enjoyed himself. You look over at him and he’s looking at Conway, West, and Benny like a proud dad.
Did anyone from Griselda interact with him?
After Conway performed “The Cow,” which is one of the most iconic songs you can see Conway do live, Hov called him over to the side of the stage. Conway is wiping tears out his eyes and tells Hov, “Yo, my bad that I’m crying and s**t.” Hov was like, “Nah, that’s good. That’s that emotion. That’s that pain. Don’t be afraid to let that out on stage.”
What sort of hood s**t went on, on that tour?
On the tour bus, Benny is betting people to play him in [NBA 2K] and he’s cleaning up. At this point, he’s the richest dude playing 2K on the tour bus and he gets a thrill out of taking people’s money. It was like, “Bro, why is anyone betting Benny in 2K?” He was actually collecting the money (laughs). Touring with BSF is the dopest to tour with because it’s so many of them and they have dudes that came home from doing bids; dudes that are fresh off the block. There’s so much going on.
How has Griselda’s rider changed over the years?
Only thing that changed is there’s D’usse now instead of Henny. Benny and Conway gotta have some cognac backstage and there has to be a fruit tray. There can’t be any pork at all. If you do it, the show is over, but nobody’s made that mistake. Also, there needs to be two to four champagne bottles for Westside Gunn because he’s not a hard liquor drinker.
Were there any Griselda shows that were cancelled due to COVID-19?
The second leg of the “What Would Chine Gun Do Tour” had to get cancelled. That was 20 cities. The tour ended on March 6. The second leg got confirmed on the 11th. All Westside Gunn had to do was approve it and I was talking to West that day. He wanted to see if it made sense for everybody and he was like, “Yeah, we’re going to do it. I’m going to let Roc Nation know tomorrow.” That next day, I got a call from Roc Nation and they said, “Yo, it’s a wrap.” Also, Benny was going on tour with Russ and that was going to be the biggest tour Benny had every been on. That got cancelled. Benny had his own greenroom and tour bus for that joint. They rolled out the red carpet for Benny to go on that tour. Good news is it’s Russ, and when touring comes back, that tour is going to definitely happen.