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.’
Spudds’ camera has captured indelible live moments from Dej Loaf, Eminem, Wiz Khalifa, DJ Drama, and Lil Uzi Vert, to name a few. “[Lil Uzi] ran through the crowd so much because he wanted everyone to see he was with his fans. I damn near be losing my breath trying to catch up with him. It’s not easy,” the photographer told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” Scudds discusses Dej Loaf meeting Eminem for the first time at a Big Sean show, Wiz Khalifa water fights with DJ Drama, and more. Read below.
The first tour you went on as a photographer was with Dej Loaf in 2015. How’d you connect with her?
She had an old manager at the time named Joy. I linked with Joy during the time I was working with DC Young Fly. Joy reached out to me and asked, “Hey, can you come out to Bowie with us?” Bowie is like 30 minutes from my hometown of Baltimore, so I was like, “Yeah.” This was before Uzi — around 2015. I went on tour with her when “Back Up Off Me” was her hit single. She had a crazy tour.
What is her personality on stage?
On stage, she’s Dej Loaf. When she’s off stage, she’s Deja Trimble, the nice sweetheart who is quiet with a soft tone voice and would look out for anybody. She’s going to make sure your problem is her problem and she’s always been that way.
What angles do you make sure to get while she’s performing?
She loves her fits and the unique style of her hair. Not too many girls can rock the short haircut. She wanted to make sure she looked good on set. At the time, she was coming into her figure and wanted to show that appeal without overdoing it.
What are some of the wild memories you have with her?
This one time I had too many shots of Henny because, at the time, Deja loved Henny. So, I slid down the stairs, fell, and dropped my camera. From there, we went to the beach to turn up some more. This was after a show in Miami. We randomly were like, “Let’s go to the beach.” It was a gang of people with us.
What are her tour hits?
“Back Up Off Me,” “Try Me,” and “Hey There.” When she sings “hey there, hey there,” those girls scream for that song.
She performed “Detroit Vs Everybody” with Eminem, Royce Da 5’9”, Danny Brown, and Big Sean in Detroit in 2015. How’d that come together?
At soundcheck, I met Big Sean. He came through and greeted us. Sean was really curating the whole thing because it was on his [Finding Paradise Live in Detroit] show. I didn’t get to meet Danny and Eminem until after. The backstage vibes were so legendary because Royce, Danny, Em, Dej, and Big Sean were all together chilling.
You also got a rare photo of Eminem off stage with Dej. Was that before or after the performance?
That was backstage after they left the stage. That was the first time she met Eminem. Once they left the stage, they were talking on the way to his dressing room. Em showed her straight Detroit love.
What’s on Dej’s rider?
She likes this card game they play in Detroit and she had cards on her rider. Capri Sun, water, Welch’s grape gummies. She was picky about food because she’ll get gourmet food. She had fruit trays because she wanted to keep her figure. Other than that, she wasn’t going to crazy on her rider.
You then went on to photograph Lil Uzi Vert on tour. What show of his connect with you on a deeper level?
One of the shows was in Philly at TLA Philly [on March 31, 2016] and it was his homecoming of sorts. That was big for him. To go back home after having one of your songs — “Money Longer” — go viral and you’re on the charts was huge for him. You typically don’t get a homecoming show like that where the whole city comes out at that venue. His other shows were like a celebration and this realization of, “This is really happening for me.” Going to places like Atlanta and Dallas, and selling out shows were some of the early moments when he was realizing it was really happening for him.
What are his tour hits?
“7AM” will always go. You play that today and it’ll go off. “So Hit” and “Canadian Goose” too. From Luv Is Rage 2, I’d say “Dark Queen,” “Early 30 Rager,” and “Neon Guts.” Shout out to PForReal. That’s his DJ.
Yeah, I’ve seen Uzi shows where he’s come out in a shirt dedicated to Kanye West’s mom and Kim Kardashian’s father while riding an RTV.
He came out on the dirt bike. At that time, he was dating Brittany [Byrd] and she was on the ATV with him. We actually lit a smoke bomb in there by accident. We lit off a purple and green smoke bomb and the crowd went crazy. Uzi didn’t really have creative direction on his set design on his stages. When we did do it, I told my boy D. Rich — his current road manager — to get a smoke bomb, run across the stage to get us that aesthetic, and then throw that shit outside. We tried that at a Baltimore show where we had pink fuzz because, at the time, Uzi’s hair was transitioning from purple to pink. The whole dirt bike and floormat aesthetic is how he is in his house. Everybody in Philadelphia and New York has a dirt bike in their kitchen, bathroom, or in their living room (laughs). That was an aesthetic he wanted to give. That was his comfort zone.
What shots can get when photographing Uzi?
When you’re photographing Uzi live, you have to get crowd shots; interactive shots. He loves his fans. You have to get him interacting with the crowd. Anything involving him in a moshpit or him sky diving. I’ve chased him all around everywhere, it’s so annoying (laughs). That’s his thing. He ran through the crowd so much because he wanted everyone to see he was with his fans. I damn near be losing my breath trying to catch up with him. It’s not easy.
Things like that are why Uzi’s fans are so connected to him. How have you seen his fans show love at his shows?
When we went to The Roots Picnic [on June 2, 2018], he ran through the crowd and they threw a box of Pop-Tarts at his head. He liked it and kept it. He said, “Whoever threw these Pop-Tarts know my flavor. I appreciate you.” Then, the crowd went crazy.
You also lent a hand to DJ Drama on Wiz Khalifa’s “High Road Tour” in the summer of 2016. What were your day-to-day duties?
I had to get everybody from Snoop Dogg and Taylor Gang to DJ Drama and his artist Lyquin. I ended up doing everybody’s content. I was capturing everything from them waking up to them damn near going to sleep (laughs). I was at the after-parties and everything.
What was Drama’s set like on that tour?
It was pretty cool. He had to challenge himself to DJ for the older crowd and younger crowd. There was a huge age range of the crowd from 16 to probably 40 because people were there for Snoop Dogg as well as Wiz. He would ask me, “Hey Spudds, what do you think is dope now for the kids?” I’d give him some pointers. Sometimes he’d call Cannon on the phone and ask the same thing. They’d tell him something like “Magnolia” by Playboy Carti. By the fifth city, he started to get the hang of it.
What tour dates sticks out to you?
Wantagh, New York. I called my friend Danny from My Mixtapez. We were heading to upstate New York and got pulled over. They pulled the whole tour bus over because they found pounds of weed on our bus. I’m freaking out on the bus like, “Damn, we’re about to go down for some bullshit.” Next thing you know, they took us off the bus and put us on the side of the road. They had me, DJ Drama, and damn near the whole label on the ground. They pulled out a whole thing of weed and asked, “Who does this belong to?” We got out of it OK thanks to some help and were able to get to the show right after that.
Wasn’t there a water fight on that tour?
Yeah, it was Taylor Gang vs. DJ Drama’s bus. Breeze, one of Wiz’s right-hand men, and his security, was like, “We’re going to do a quick water fight, so be prepared.” They were messing with us all tour and then once we got to Virginia, they ambushed the whole bus with all of these Super Soakers. They ran down the whole bus. Wiz comes out on the skateboard on some drive-by shit and starts shooting everyone with water. We weren’t prepared. We had some Dollar Store Super Soakers. It was all bad.
There were a lot of different personalities on that tour from Casey Veggies and Jhene Aiko to Snoop and Wiz. What was backstage like?
Everybody was pretty much like family. We had dirt bikes. We had a hoop. We were kicking it and smoking weed all day. It was a community. Jhene was real cool. Kevin Gates would pray and had some of us praying with them. That was when [Yung] Mazi was alive. He would have us pray too. Rest in peace to Mazi. Once the show started, everyone got to work.
What was on everyone’s rider?
Wiz wanted 20 doobies, Carpi Suns, Doritos, towels, RAW paper trays, Pop-Tarts, Fruit Roll-Ups, and water. At the time, he wasn’t working on his body for MMA, so he was eating anything. Drama had the typical Doritos, Capri Sun, Laffy Taffy from the Dollar Store…
What’s the hardest part about touring as a photographer?
Your diet. A diet is hard to keep. You catch yourself eating just junk food all the damn time. It was hard to keep up with that on tour. You can’t get regular food on tour. So, drink a lot of water. We also only had one bathroom on that tour bus with a limited amount of water, so you had to really know how to keep your hygiene.
Also, dumping your memory cards is big. Let’s say you have a show that ends at 10, you have an after-show that is at 2 a.m., and the flight or bus leaves at 7 a.m., you have to dump your cards, get your camera battery ready, wash, sleep, and get ready to do it the next day. It’s the hardest part.
What was the last show you shot before the pandemic?
To be real with you, the last show I shot was Wiz Khalifa on tour with Playboy Cardi and French Montana. It was me, Ceddy Hendrix, and Wiz. We were kicking it backstage and I just said, “I don’t think I want to do this tour shit anymore.” I walked away. I was done. I did my part. I wanted to focus more on directing.