A few years ago, Lil Duval learned what many already knew: You can’t come to Nashville and not hear about DJ Coop. The former DJ of Starlito, Key Glock, and others has been touring with Duval for years and knows you have to expect the unexpected from the legendary comedian.
“Duval is like the cool rich uncle, so we just be at it. He’s unfiltered. The funniest shit he said to me was how I was built like a substitute teacher,” Coop told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” Duval’s DJ of the last few years explains how following the comedian on Instagram led to becoming his DJ, what he learned from touring with Starlito and Kevin Gates, and how he helped develop Key Glock’s stage show. Read below!
You’ve been deejaying for years. Who was the first artist you deejayed for?
It was Starlito when we did the “Stranger Than Fiction Tour” with Kevin Gates [in 2013]. It was Starlito, Don Trip, and Kevin Gates. Starlito was one of my favorite rappers when I was in high school. I moved to Memphis and I didn’t even know Star, but I met Yo Gotti and I told him I was Starlito’s DJ because I knew he was fucking with Star back then. When I moved back to Nashville, I was deejaying in the club and I met Starlito’s manager at the time named Ed. Something happened where his former DJ had got into it and couldn’t come deejay. Star’s manager Ed was telling him, “Yo, you should fuck with Coop.” Star hit me up like, “You trying to do this show?” I took it as an opportunity. Our first show was in Macon, Georgia around the time when Gucci was beefing with Jeezy and made that diss song. The show only had 10 or 20 people in the crowd, but the dude paid him the price he asked for. I think the dude was a super fan or something like that. We were doing the show and I was ad-libbing because he didn’t have a hype man. The whole time we’re looking around like, “Who got a microphone?” It was me, and from there we always had good chemistry. I haven’t looked back.
How was it being around Starlito?
When we rolled with Kevin Gates, we had a lot of experiences. Gates is a wild boy (laughs). It’s great seeing an artist before they pop. I’ve been around a lot and I’ve been a gatekeeper in Nashville because the DJs are the ones who really be carrying this music and we get looked over. We were in Miami with Gates and there were about 20 people in the crowd thugging. There were some nights when there were about 10 or 20 people in there. He still performed like there were 50,000 people in there. Another highlight was South by Southwest. I learned how to campaign from being down at SXSW. That was around when DaBaby was walking around there in a diaper. Migos was just getting hot. It was a great experience running into different people.
What are Starlito’s tour hits?
“Caesar and Brutus” with Starlito and Trip is their biggest song. Starlito also had “Insomnia Addict” that would go crazy.
What was the camaraderie like backstage on that “Stranger Than Fiction Tour”?
It was so cool because Starlito is one of Kevin Gates’ favorite rappers, so it was almost like an honor to have him on the tour. It was still at the same time when we were building. I think I was only getting $50 a show to deejay because they were only getting $500-$1000 a show. I was driving the van, deejaying, doing security, and doing everything. I was driving the sprinter when I was on tour with Key Glock too. I’m a go-getter. Even with Duval, I do photography and everything. I do whatever I have to do. The more you do, the longer you’ll stay around.
What was Kevin Gates’ show like on that tour?
Kevin Gates is a great performer. His energy is always there. That’s how I learned how to read the room. He didn’t care if it was 1 or 1,000 people there. I remember his slogan was, “My name is Kevin Gates. I’m trying to be your favorite rapper. If you don’t like my CD, throw my shit out the window.” He had a great show. He’d jump in the crowd and do anything. At that time, it was only him and OG Boobie Black. Black was doing security, selling shirts and everything. And he had one arm (laughs). He showed me whatever you wanted to do you could do it.
What did you learn from your time with Starlito?
I’m a perfectionist like him. His show is about wordplay, so it’s about knowing about having cues. I learned from him how to run his show and it’s similar to how I do my shows with Duval. Everything with Duval’s show is about cues. Duval’s shows are comedy shows but he still has cues in his shows. It wasn’t hard because I had been doing the same with Starlito. Star and I never had a falling out, I just like to be valued for what I bring to the table. If I’m doing xyz, then I feel I should be compensated for that. But, there was no bad blood.
After Starlito, who was the next artist you went on tour with?
Key Glock, that’s my nephew. I went on the road with Glock around 2016. Star and I stopped doing stuff because he was in that mode where he was in between wanting to rap and not wanting to rap, and I had real-life bills. I couldn’t wait on anyone to figure out what they wanted to do. I learned a lot on the road with Glock because I was with Daddy O, the CEO of Paper Route. I learned how to put a tour together and move through these cities from him.
How did you help Key Glock develop his live show?
I actually booked him for his first show in Nashville for $2,500. From learning the cues and different things like that from Starlito, it was easy to teach him. He didn’t know how to perform. He was just standing in one spot trying to be cool. I was like, “You have to give these people a show. You have to give these promoters what they’re paying for.” I feel the newer generation skips over the hard work because you can make a hit and you’re gone. We started touring at the top of 2017 and did about 30 cities. I’m 32 and he’s 23, and I had already done all the stuff on the road they were doing. I would meet with Daddy O every morning downstairs to just pick his brain. He taught me everything I know now as far as artists, tours, and everything. Around then, I met Duval and I’ve been on the road with him for three years.
How did you link up with Duval?
I met Duval in Nashville at this comedy club in 2018. There were four names of DJs he got: me, DJ Cash, DJ Chill, and DJ Crisis. Duval told me, “I just went to everybody’s page and whoever was following me was who I went with.” I was the only one following him. I had been looking at Duval since I was 13 on “Comic View.” We did six shows and I killed all of them. I told my mom what was going on and she told me what to tell him. She told me to say, “Give me your schedule and I’ll make it my schedule.” I told him that and he was like, “You don’t know how many people have told me that.” I was like, “You don’t know who you’re talking to. I’ll drive to Atlanta and catch those flights.” My first year on tour with him, I drove to Atlanta every weekend so I could be on the same flight as him. At the last show, he told the crowd, “Hey, I’m taking DJ Coop on the road with me.” That was the first time he ever played “Smile.” That song took off and we’ve been rocking ever since.
What was the crowd reaction when he first played “Smile”?
It was like how you play a new song no one knows. It just shows the power of the internet. Not even 30 days later, the song was a hit. As soon as that song popped, my first show was in Brooklyn on Father’s Day weekend doing these festivals. I’ve done the BET Awards with him too. I was skating on there.
The funny thing was, I didn’t know how to deejay for a comedian. Rappers need hype men, so I didn’t know if the same thing was needed in a comedy club. He didn’t even know I could talk on the mic or anything. He announced he was going to be on BET Awards and I knew I had to get on that show with him. I saw he was going to have skating in there and I said, “I could do that.” He was like, “Yeah right.” I showed him some videos of me skating, so he was like, “OK, bet.” I didn’t even have money to catch the flight. I didn’t even have a room. I just had to get down there and take advantage of the opportunity.
How was the “Living My Best Life Tour”?
That tour was dope. We were just talking about that last night. We started off with a band, backup dancers, and everything. He did the tour through Live Nation. Before the 85 South Show, we had Karlous [Miller], Chico [Bean], and DC [Young Fly] open up for us. Duval had his own planes and all. That was my first time being on a jet. I met Snoop [Dogg] through Duval. A lot of people don’t take advantage of what’s in front of them. He gave me the opportunity to do the stage production as far as coming up with different things as far as lights and LED screens. We would sit down and actually put the show together. He’s a humble dude who listens.
What was the show like in L.A. when Snoop came out to perform “Smile” with Duval?
That was dope as hell. That was one of the best shows we’ve done. The reaction of people’s faces when they see a special guest come out is dope. Their chemistry is like you and I talking because they’re actually friends. It’s not like any Hollywood stuff. They talk and FaceTime each other naturally. Being around stuff like that is a blessing to see.
How did the show usually go?
It’s in between music and comedy. We’ll come out to music and then go into 20 minutes of comedy. When we had the band, it was more of a production. The show is dope.
What are some of the funniest things Duval has done with you?
Duval is like the cool rich uncle so we just be at it. He’s unfiltered. The funniest shit he said to me was how I was built like a substitute teacher (laughs).
What is on Duval’s rider?
You wouldn’t even believe this shit. Duval has Starbursts on that motherfucker. He has chips on it. We eat McDonald’s. He doesn’t even leave the room when we travel. He be on UberEats. His rider is simple. He doesn’t drink. He has hot wings on there. If there’s liquor on the rider, it’s for us.
What do you have coming up?
We’re finishing out the year with the tour. He just dropped his song “Sexy” with Boosie. We’re supposed to be going on tour with Tank, Jamie Foxx, and someone else. It’s still in the works right now. The one thing about comedy, it’ll always be around, so we can do those all year.