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 K.i.D. has been DaBaby’s DJ before the perennial chart-topper was destroying arenas. Once the pandemic hit, their entire 2020 shifted.
“We were booked the whole year. We had Coachella. We had Rolling Loud. We were going back overseas. You could say we lost more than 50 shows, and we were still on tour, and had about 20 shows left on that tour. That’s probably an understatement,” he told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” DJ K.i.D. explains what it was like for DaBaby to perform at a drive-in show, how they developed a brotherhood on the road, the onstage synergy between DaBaby and Megan Thee Stallion, and much more. Read below.
What were the discussions you and DaBaby had when you knew touring would stop because of the pandemic?
When we saw the world going crazy over the pandemic — the stores started emptying out, and people were losing water — we found out they were going to put the whole tour on hold. We were like, “OK.” It’s a smart thing to do for the world because you don’t want anyone to get injured. We’re entertainers at the end of the day, so it’s not like we can’t entertain or get in touch with the fans by having a good time on social media or other events. We started brainstorming on what’s next. We were really thinking about drive-in concerts before they really happened. So, staying ahead of the curve and being prepared for anything. We’re both superstars and are able to change with the tides.
How many shows did you two lose out on?
We were booked the whole year. We had Coachella. We had Rolling Loud. We were going back overseas. You could say we lost more than 50 shows, and we were still on tour, and had about 20 shows left on that tour. That’s probably an understatement.
Did you see people moving differently before the pandemic hit?
Nah because people thought it was a joke. Everyone was saying they had a cousin that worked at the Pentagon (laughs). For us, we didn’t want to go through that. So, staying safe ourselves, we remained distant because we ain’t got time to catch [COVID-19].
You were right about DaBaby being ahead of the curve with live shows because he performed a concert from a private jet over FaceTime in December. How did that come about?
We had a huge show in Charlotte, but the jet had a delay. I think there was a leak or something wrong with the jet. So, we weren’t able to take off on time to get us back to Charlotte. So, they ended up FaceTiming [DaBaby] and connected it the way they needed to connect it for Baby’s FaceTime to be on the big screen. DJ Playboy was deejaying at the time and he dropped Baby’s hottest records, and as soon as Baby pulled up on that screen, they went crazy. Then, we gave them free tickets to the next Charlotte show we had and that was like a fan-love concert. That was dope and different.
DaBaby will be performing a drive-in concert with Lil Baby in Atlanta on Oct. 11. What are your expectations?
Atlanta has had little parking lot concert series’, but this is the biggest one. It’s at Motor Speedway, so it’s big enough where it might feel like a Rolling Loud or something. Having DaBaby and Atlanta’s own Lil Baby is something the people want to see.
It’s not your first one. DaBaby did a drive-in concert in Chicago in late July. What was different about the show?
I could tell people were surprised that we were doing a show. You could tell on certain people’s faces. You didn’t really that many artists doing shows because of the Coronavirus. Being as safe as possible is something we did on the regular and didn’t seem to be a problem for us.
Was DaBaby’s performance different than he normally does?
He wasn’t able to run through the crowd as he would on the regular, or get up and reach his hand out. But, he took it all for what it was for. He was playing with the cameras like we were on “SNL” or “Jimmy Fallon.” He was just having fun. I can’t say it was big difference because we were still onstage and doing what we did. After the show, he dapped me up and told me, “We did that.”
How do you prepare for a show where the crowd will be in cars?
You take a different approach. I’m sure there’ll be people on top of their roofs turning up and to get a better look. If they can’t raise their hand in their car, you tell them to honk their horn. They’ll find different ways to show your love for the artist. To me, it’s a challenge and different way to look at things. I love it.
His BET Awards performance is one of his best ever. How was it putting that together?
We just locked in. The Reel Goats is a great video production team — [James] Rico, Spicy, Gemini. We just got with the people we know, and can function with, and who make great reels, movies and videos. Along with Baby’s mastermind creativity, that performance was what we did with our videos. That was standard. We wanted to put a video for his performance that can live in the world for a long time. Also, we were making a statement that Black lives matter. I think it was a day and a half set.
How has your role in DaBaby’s shows changed over the years?
When I first ran into Baby at East Carolina University [on September 1, 2018], I was deejaying for him because his previous DJ couldn’t make it. That was the first day we started building our chemistry. As we went on the road and went through some tests, I was like, “I have to figure out his commands and his movements.” We never had a setlist. We never did any run-throughs or choreography. None of that. There was never any sitting in a warehouse and practicing. Every time we had a show — even our biggest shows — we go straight to the stage not knowing what we going to play onstage. I know his hits and what songs he loves personally. As time went on, I started to pay attention to his mood before [the show] — we get off the jet, go to the hotel, and seeing what time he’s on. If he’s turned up, as he is on the usual, I pay attention to all of that now. It’s not me asking him, “What you want to do? What’s the first few songs?”
What mistakes did you make to grow that chemistry?
It’s been a few. I remember one time we had a college show and I was in the moment on my computer searching for the next song and not being present. It’s a split second decision. Instead of me looking for the next song or paying attention a little bit more, he was like, “KID, drop the No. 1 song in the world.” I ended up playing “Suge.” But, at midnight, we had just released “INTRO” and that went No. 1 everywhere. It was the song I produced. He was like, “Come on, bruh. What you doing? Did you forget you produced the No. 1 song in the world?” I was like, “Bruh, I’m tripping.” That’s when we came up with the whole light show for “INTRO” where we’ll go left to right [with] all lights in the sky. We do that every show now.
What released song made you see a significant change in show crowds?
Before we released “Suge,” we were performing “21” and “Gorilla Glue” — throwing out the fake weed into the crowd and having fun with the crowd. When he dropped “Suge,” we tapped into a whole different market. That’s when we started getting the hard ticket sales and tapping into different genres. It wasn’t just African-Americans coming to the shows. It was white people, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and everybody. Everyone was losing their mind before “Suge,” but when we got into these arenas and bigger venues, people would mosh pit and go crazy. It was a movie.
What is DaBaby’s biggest tour hit?
I’d say “21.” He has a lot of female followers. So, in the beginning, he’ll rap the lyric, “How she only 21?” Or he’ll ask around like, “How old are you? How old are you?” It’s crazy, the person he picks happens to be 21 and when he throws them the mic, they’ll be like, “I’m 21!” Then, he’ll say, “How she only 21?” And then, I’ll drop the song. The crowd would go crazy. After his radio run, we didn’t think people would know “21” like that. But, everyone knew it. Every female in the crowd was singing it. The reaction was like it was “Suge” or “BOP.”
DaBaby’s fans love him. What is a fan interaction you remember vividly?
There was a fan we saw in a corner store like, “Is that DaBaby? Is that DaBaby right there?” Baby came around the corner and basically jumped on her. It was great to [see] that his fans love him like that.
As DaBaby’s celebrity grows, who are some big names who have surprised you by showing up to his shows?
Drake (laughs). We were out there in Canada [at the Rebel Nightclub in 2019] and Drake popped up. He came onstage and did a set. He’s deep in the game and is a great performer himself, and he stopped by and paid attention to what we got going on. We didn’t know Drake was pulling up.
All I saw was Drake come from behind the curtain, he dapped me up and then it was on. One of his people he was with came behind me and was like, “This is what Drake’s fucking with. Play this real quick.” Drake was being super genuine. It was good vibes.
How did your relationship grow with DaBaby on the road?
Really it’s being on the tour bus with someone for a couple of months. You’re not in your own crib. Y’all living together. Y’all in these bunk beds, eating together, and together all the time. He really my big brother. He makes sure we all good and that I’m good. If somebody asked me, “I want to really bond with an artist,” I’d tell them to hop on tour with them.
DaBaby performed with the Jabbawockeez at Rolling Loud. How’d that come about?
To be real, they did “BOP” [music video], and they we did “SNL,” and had the Jabbawockeez featured on there, as well. A lot of the younger generation don’t really know about the Jabbawockeez and us growing up with them on the dance show and all of that, we were like, “Shit, we can reintroduce this raw ass dance team to the younger people or whoever with the hottest artist in the world.” When [DaBaby] came out in the Jabbawockeez suit, it was a whole different approach. Baby would’ve never thought Baby would be in the Jabbawockeez suit, running onstage, ripping the mask off (laughs). It was a good time.
What’s the most memorable show you’ve done with him?
When we did SXSW [in 2019] in Texas and we were doing a bunch of different shows. It sticks out to me because it was one of the shows where we were touching a different state and expanding our reach — going past Charlotte, South Carolina, Durham, and Raleigh. Baby was known after he was walking around in his diaper a few years back. So, it was good to see Baby run out onstage with the crowd going dumb. It was a different vibe and set than we were used to.
DaBaby and Megan Thee Stallion were booked on many of the same festivals in 2019. Did that affect their live show?
After they made “Cash Shit” and it was buzzing, of course everyone wants to see great rappers, so we’re on the same bill. Some performances Megan would finish her set with “Cash Shit,” and DaBaby would come out and perform, and then we’d go into our set. It was fun seeing these two artists the world love and it wasn’t a competition of who was the best performance. It was just a turn up.