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.’
Young Nudy built his star on the road and Bradley “DJ BJ” Whitaker was there for it all. The 28-year-old DJ dropped out of college to pursue deejaying full-time and helped Nudy grow his live show, but not without some growing pains.
“The first show, I botched it, so he gave me the nickname DJ Fuck Up. It wasn’t until we did Rolling Loud in December 2017, two months later, and it was the first great show we had together and [I] graduated from the name DJ Fuck Up,” BJ told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” Nudy’s longtime DJ discusses how he helped develop the artist’s stage presence, what he learned from Waka Flocka and more. Peep below.
You’ve been deejaying for Nudy since 2016. How did the pandemic affect you two’s 2020?
We had multiple tours planned. We had two different tours. The “Anyways Tour” was supposed to start March 14. The week before is when we found out everything was being shut down. We hadn’t toured since 21 Savage’s tour (“I Am > I Was Tour”) the summer before. Before they shut everything down, it was still up in the air because cities were shutting down, but every other city was still open. Atlanta, Dallas, and Houston were still open. We thought we could reschedule the other shows for later. Just as much as we wanted to go on tour, so did Live Nation because everyone making money off this.
We were supposed to do the “Anyways Tour” after he dropped the album in February, and that was going to be his first headlining nationwide tour. Then, after that, we were going to go to Hawaii for a month and then go overseas after that. People have a bad habit of counting money before they get it, me included. So, if I know I’m getting this much money from tours and from afterparties, I’m already planning what I’m doing after tours. A week after the tour ended, I was going to go to Columbia and get veneers. I was also going to get a Tesla truck. I don’t ever use my tour money.
Before we go into your history with Nudy, who was the first major artist you toured with?
Waka Flocka in April 2016. For a little college tour. At the time, his official DJ, DJ Whoo Kid, had a show in Dubai or something and we linked up by happenstance. One day, I was on Twitter and there was this little app called Houseparty where eight people could get on a sort of FaceTime call. One day, someone put him in our Instagram group chat. He hopped on with us, chopped it up, and he told me he had a rotation of DJs he used when his main DJ couldn’t make it. I told him, “When you need a DJ, just call me and put me in rotation.” One day I got that call.
How did you get used to deejaying for him?
I had a folder they gave me and he told me what he wanted to hear. There was no real setlist and he just fed off the crowd. Our first show was at Wingate University. In 2016, he was one of the most booked acts in hip hop. This was after his whole big EDM move, so he had a really big turnout. They sold out the first show and they still had people waiting outside because it was a private show.
What do you remember the most about how Waka performed?
He would go into the crowd by himself with his jewelry on. He’s a big guy, so no one would try anything crazy. He would go in the crowd and mosh with the people with no security around him at all.
How was he off-stage?
Wake is smart as hell. He’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever talked to and engaged with. He puts you on so much game. He would drop little gems on me and he didn’t have to. That’s why I try to take my opportunities to give the wisdom I got to feed into other people. That’s the same thing he did for me in the short time we worked together.
How did you and Nudy develop your chemistry?
Nudy was the first artist where I was the most involved because the artists I worked with before had a stage presence and knew how to interact with the crowd, segue, or even just talk to the crowd. Nudy was the first artist where he would perform and if you didn’t say anything and he didn’t say anything, it would be crickets onstage. He was new to it. In my role, I had to actually start segueing into songs and getting the crowd more involved in between songs. From then to now, he’s more into it now. He’s way more comfortable. At first, it was a learning experience for the both of us. But, that’s where I got one of my funniest nicknames: DJ Fuck Up.
How’d you get that?
The first show I ever did with him was a weird show. It was in Dallas, Texas. The way they had the stage setup, they had Nudy on the main stage with the DJs on the side stage. If you know anything about how we traveled back then, you know we had about 12-13 people on stage with him and I’m off to the side and I can’t really see anything. Some artists might have cues, but Nudy didn’t have any of that. You had to know when to stop the song and go to the next one. There were no rehearsals. The first show, I botched it, so he gave me the nickname DJ Fuck Up. It wasn’t until we did Rolling Loud in December 2017, two months later, and it was the first great show we had together and graduated from the name DJ Fuck Up.
After that, we still haven’t had rehearsals, but the more shows we’ve had, we understand our weaknesses and strengths. He pretty much puts the setlist in my hands like “Do what you think is best.” He’ll also listen for my cues, how I segue, or where I’m going next, so he’s not caught off guard. There’s a lot more communication onstage between the two of us, which is entertaining for the crowd.
Wasn’t there a Nudy performance in November 2018 where a fight broke out?
Yeah, it’s one of the funniest shows. That was his first-ever headlining show in Atlanta. It sold out. We only got one song done before the fight broke out. Everyone thought it was a fight between two parties. It was a fight between the venue’s security and his personal security because the venue security put hands on his personal security. Nudy didn’t have anything to do with it. He’s so nonchalant about fights because of how he grew up and everything. I’m on a little platform and the stage is full of people, so when the fight break out, everyone gets to running and screaming. Somebody ran into the table and knocked over the table. That almost ended the whole show right there because my laptop and DJ equipment almost went over.
In the clip, you hear a gun sound. Everybody asks me what made me hit that gun sound. It was literally me trying to save my laptop from falling over onto the stage. I’m grabbing it wherever I can grab it and triggered it. While everything is going on, my equipment got unplugged. In the midst of the fight, I’m trying to plug my equipment up and get the sound back right. Nudy’s like, “Hey BJ, spin that shit.” I don’t know if it was instinct, but I played the song “Pussy,” and that was not the next song on the setlist, but it was such an amped up moment that I can’t come with anything not matching the energy. Once I pressed play on that, it probably played for five seconds before the house audio guy cut all of the sound off. But, the crowd kept rapping the song. That was probably one of the fittest shows we didn’t get to do because we had hella people we had about to come onstage. We had Todd Gurley, Offset, 21 Savage, Lil Yachty, Trippie Redd, Metro Boomin. Everyone besides Gurley was going to come onstage and perform.
The only thing we had sound for was the mic because they wanted me to tell everyone to go home. I was like, “I ain’t doing that shit. They not going to boo me.” I gave the mic to Nudy and told him to say something to these folks. He was about to tell them the show was ended, but when he got on the mic, folk started rapping his lyrics. So, he starts performing back to them and out of nowhere they’re having an a capella concert.
What was the most memorable show?
The Day N Vegas Festival (in November 2019). We went on the secondary stage right after Lil Baby performed on the main stage and it looked crazy. That was our first time performing in Vegas. You don’t really know where you have fans at. As soon as I pressed play on the intro, people started running from the main stage to Nudy. I forgot who was performing at the same time as us on the other stage, but people started running from every direction.
Those festivals always bring out the stars. What were the afterparties like following his performance?
To tell you the truth, I don’t even know. After the show, we went to a collective dinner at Benihana’s. We went to go link up with Metro, Savage and Future, and then I went to sleep. I had an early flight in the morning. I was exhausted. We had already been doing a string of homecoming concerts in October. We were in and out every week, and sometimes throughout the whole week. Before that, we had two shows in Louisiana and another show in Charlotte that same week [of Day N Vegas]. We drove to Louisiana from Atlanta. We waited like four hours and hopped on a flight to Vegas. We missed J. Cole’s set and would’ve came on there for “Down Bad.” We missed Cole set because our flight landed too late after being delayed.