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.’
B. Rich, manager of new artists Big Havi, Shyne Grady, SlimeLife Shawty, and Ayanna Perry, has worked with stars for more than a decade. He groomed B.o.B. to go from a teenage open mic rapper to a sold-out arena artist and took no shortcuts.
“At the time, I was watching Diddy’s ‘Making The Band’ (laughs). I had him watch a lot of people like DMX, Outkast, and people like that. They used to say he sounds like [Andre 3000]. I blame myself for that,” Rich told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” the artist manager talks working with a teenage B.O.B., developing Big Havi during a pandemic, and helping Kevin Gates with his live show. Read below.
How’d you link with B.O.B.?
His mom and my mom are really close. I was a pharmaceutical sales rep doing well for myself and I started off being his mentor; helping him get better grades in school. He was about 14 or 15 years old and still in high school. I asked him what he likes to do and he told me he likes to rap. With me being in the pharmaceutical industry, I entertain a lot of doctors and I had one of the livest tailgates with these sports radio guys named 2 Live Stews. We did a tailgate together and this one guy asked if I could help promote this open mic at this place called Underground Atlanta. That’s how I got started in the music industry. With having that open mic outlet, I told B.O.B., “Hey, if you get better grades in school, I’ll let you perform at the open mic.” That’s how we started.
What was his first show like at the open mic?
Oh, he was terrible. He was looking down at the ground and had his back to the crowd. I was like, “Yo what are you doing?” It was pretty bad, so I had to develop his performance skills. I had him practicing and all of that.
What did you do to develop his performance skills?
At the time, I was watching Diddy’s ‘Making The Band’ (laughs). I had him watch a lot of people like DMX, Outkast, and people like that. They used to say he sounds like [Andre 3000]. I blame myself for that. When we couldn’t afford beats, his mom got him a Triton. I would tell him to listen to them and make your beats sound like that. I would tell him listen to Outkast and Organized Noize. I would have him listen to things like Jazze Pha and have him make beats like that.
By the time his debut album, B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray, came out in 2010, how had his live show improved?
By that time, he pretty much formed his own vision of what he wanted to do. He had a band. He started playing the guitar. He had backup singers and dancers. He pretty much put the whole show together. It was fun watching him grow into his own little monster.
What was the first show you saw him do that made you think he was finally a superstar?
We were on the [The Great Hangover] Tour with Asher Roth and Kid Cudi in 2009. At the first show in Cleveland, he started rapping and did “Generation Lost.” When he started doing the a capella and had the crowd going in, I was like, “Wow. This is it.” He was on the blogs and I realized it was a whole different lane for him. It’s not like a typical Atlanta artist where we had haters everywhere. That’s when I realized he knows how to perform and really seeing that.
That was after he was on the cover for the 2009 XXL Freshman list. Did that lead to any shows?
Yeah, after that cover, we were on a whirlwind. We did Hip Hop Live with David Banner and Talib Kweli before that. We did the “Shwayze Tour.” We just kept touring and it never stopped.
What’s the wildest fan reaction you’ve seen at a show?
One time we came to a performance, went into the dressing room, and it was a college dressing room. A fan just jumped out of the locker and started freestyling. We didn’t know if we should f**k him up because he’s trying to harm us or whatever. Luckily, it was a white kid who just started rapping. It was all good (laughs).
What was the most surprising show request you saw B.o.B. get?
Hayley Williams from Paramore was telling Taylor Swift about how cool B.o.B was. Taylor asked her, “Do you think he’d come to my show in Dallas to perform?” Hayley called with her on the phone and Taylor asked us to come to the show. She offered to do a private jet. It couldn’t happen at that time, so she sent us their personal bus. The bus was so live. We were in Memphis doing a show. The bus drove us down. The bus had two bedrooms; it was nice as hell. We did the show and then I asked her to get on the phone. That’s how the “Both of Us” collab happened with B.o.B. and Taylor Swift.
When is a time you saved a show?
One time, we were in Madrid. We were about to go on the Paramore tour and B.o.B. was about to miss his flight because he was drunk. We had just done the MTV European Music Awards. He and Kid Rock got drunk. B.o.B. was so tore up. He couldn’t get up. I had to put his pants on for him. I had to wheelchair him through the airport; he was throwing up. Did all of that just so we could catch this flight and make this show in Dublin (laughs).
You were also instrumental in the start of Kevin Gates’ career. How’d you connect with him?
It was through an A&R Mike Caren. He hit me up and asked if I would meet with Kevin to see if I’d be interested. I never heard of him at the time and I didn’t realize he had a crazy, big fanbase. I connected with Menace who really started Kevin Gates, and gave breath and life to him. Kevin still works with the team I had. I like that I can say I was part of his success and what he’s doing now.
How’d you help him?
When I put him on the B.O.B. tour to open up, I watched how he took that opportunity and stole fans. He’s one of the first artists I saw who had hard ticket sales from Black and white people. Usually, when it’s hard ticket sales, it’s just white kids, but Kevin brought the Black people out.
You’re also working Big Havi. how’s it been developing him?
Havi’s been around for a while. If you look at B.o.B.’s “Bet I Bust” video, Havi’s in there. He’s Playboy Tre’s godson. Tre’s been developing him. We were on the Lil TJay tour when the pandemic happened. That tour was helpful for Big Havi. We had just finished the U.S. run and were about to do Canada around the 20th of March. Everything’s been halted ever since. Now, we’re waiting for everything to open up.
How’s his stage show?
He’s a natural. We did a lot of tours with B.o.B. so he learned by being 14/15 on the road. He’s 20 years old and he’s still growing. He’s matured a lot.
What have you been doing with him while there are no shows?
We’ve been putting out projects, shooting a lot of videos. This next project we’re putting out is Personal Problems 2 and it has a lot of good features. It has Lil Keed, SlimeLife Shawty, OMB Peezy. We’re just putting out a lot of content for him.