DJ Hoop Dreams has been deejaying for years for stars like Alex Wiley, Dreezy, and more. But, performing in the pandemic has presented new challenges he never dealt with before.
“The only thing that felt weird was when we started getting on the east coast with New York asking for the vaccination cards. A few shows got canceled because they said they had to do COVID testing for everybody. Other than that, it’s been smooth. Touring is definitely back, which is good,” Hoop Dreams told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” Dreezy’s DJ explains how he developed his chemistry with the star, and much more. Read below!
Who was the first tour you were on?
The first tour was with an artist named Alex Wiley. He came up with Chance the Rapper. I was in my first year of college and we were friends as I just started deejaying. I brought him to a party I was deejaying. After the party, he pulled me to the side and said, ‘I love your energy. I’m about to go on tour and I need a tour DJ.’ That week I got a letter saying I was on academic probation, so I dropped everything and said, ‘Let’s go.’ We went to New York and a bunch of cities I hadn’t been to and it was dope seeing the tour life. This was around 2013. We never went on a tour with a big artist. It was always an indie tour. We drove a van from Chicago to L.A. and stopped at cities in between. Our van broke down in New Mexico. It was a weird moment because our van broke down at the same moment Dreezy dropped her ‘Chiraq’ freestyle that went viral for her and got her signed by Interscope. It was a sort of a foreshadowing for my future in the tour life.
How did you connect with Dreezy?
We went to the same school Northern Illinois University. I was helping her with her s**t, but I wasn’t really her DJ or anything like that. She didn’t think about having me as her DJ until two or three years later.
How did go from her friend who’s helping her out to her DJ?
I first met her when we graduated high school. She went to high school down the street from me at Rich South High School. I went to Homewood Flossmoor High School, which was the same school Rockie Fresh and Juice WRLD went to. I saw she and I were going to the same school, so I DM’ed her like, ‘We’re going to be at the same school and I want to help you with your music.’ That’s how I wanted to leave basketball and transition into the music industry. I would drive around and take her wherever she wanted to go — the studio, back to Chicago, going around to post flyers around the campus. We both ended up dropping out. I went on tour with Alex Wiley and she was doing her thing, dropping projects like Schizo. We remained friends throughout the entire time. For her birthday in 2015, I flew to L.A. for it as a friend to pull up to her birthday party. At her birthday party, I ended up deejaying because she had a DJ set up and nobody was thirsty to deejay. I was like, ‘Y’all tripping. I’m about to deejay.’ Her manager saw me deejay and literally pulled me to the side and told me, ‘Yo, Dreezy needs a DJ. Can you rehearse tomorrow to see if we could make you her DJ?’ I was like, ‘Hell yeah,’ and it was up from there.
What was the first show you two did together?
The first show was crazy to me. Her manager called me like, ‘Yo, we have a show in New York tomorrow.’ I was like, ‘What? I’m in Chicago.’ They said, ‘We’re performing at halftime of the Jordan Brand Classic game.’ That was crazy to me. They flew me to New York, got me my own hotel, gave me free Jordans and sweats, and we performed at halftime at an event I already followed. It was really dope. My performances with her have always been smooth. For that performance, we had to learn how to get rid of nerves and go rock out without being nervous. We had to learn how to be comfortable in any space or scenario. We were thrown into the water with that one.
What was the first show when you felt like you and Dreezy had your chemistry locked down?
I can’t remember exactly, but it was probably one of those radio shows that would be in the stadium and would have a huge lineup of artists. We did a festival in Mexico with a crowd of about 10,000 people. We just went and rocked out. From that point moving forward, we were like, ‘Yeah, it’s lit.’
Most fans may not know, but the DJ often has to make on the fly save the show. Any instances where you had to call an audible during one of her shows?
It happens every other show. Last night Yung Bleu’s DJ’s controller was broken and I had been telling him his controller was broken. Last night, right before he was about to warm the crowd up for Bleu, his controller started making a screeching noise. It was the loudest thing you’ve ever heard in your life. Everybody was looking around crazy, so we had to unplug every single wire and chord. I had to run and get the other DJ’s controller, and he was on the bus about to leave. I was banging on the bus. I was trying to save Bleu’s show because we had performed already. Luckily, I was able to grab his controller, hook it up, and it was like nothing ever happened. As far as Dreezy, I definitely pull audibles at nearly every show. Sometimes she can be in her own head and decide to change stuff up and change songs. My girl makes a joke because she thinks I get a rush out of having to call an audible or something like that because of how often it happens (laughs).
What are Dreezy’s tour hits?
A lot of her fans ask for her song ‘Serena’ with Dej Loaf. She hated performing that song because it’s so old (laughs). A lot of artists don’t want to do songs that are old as s**t, but the fans always want to hear certain songs. One song called ‘Play Wit Ya’ off of her project Big Dreez is definitely a tour hit. That’s a good question because there are definitely songs that don’t have that many streams or didn’t go viral, and they still go crazy at the shows,’
How has your role in her show evolved over the last five years?
I’m literally performing with her. I’m going on the stage walking around, engaging the fans, and trying to make everybody as hype as they physically can be. I’m always on the mic during her show saying the ad-libs. I’m dropping the music so they can hear her words better. I’m doing as much as I can to make it a good show. I never want to outshine the artist. I just want to compliment the artist as much as possible.
What is on Dreezy’s rider?
When we started, we had an agreement the rider should be buffalo chicken wings and Hennessy everywhere we go. Then, it evolved into baked chicken and reposado tequila. Now, all she eats is fish. Her rider is not too crazy or high maintenance.
What are some of the fun things you and Dreezy have done overseas?
Chopping it up with J. Cole for about an hour. It was just her and him talking. I chimed in a little bit because I couldn’t help myself (laughs). J. Cole’s manager was chiming in too. That was cool… The crowds overseas are crazy. We did her first headlining Europe tour [in 2016]. It blew my mind how we went to places like Paris and Germany, go to their clubs and the crowd is beyond excited and know her words. It opened me up to how big this music s**t is and how far you can take it.
There are new COVID restrictions in place for touring. What is this new pandemic reality like for you on the road?
To be honest, it hasn’t been as bad as I thought. A few days before the tour, I low-key started getting anxious. I started feeling a little crazy because I just got over COVID before the tour and got vaccinated. I was still nervous like, ‘Damn, the thought of getting on a tour bus with a bunch of people and going city to city is freaking me out.’ It hasn’t been that bad at all. No one has got sick, God willing. The only thing that felt weird was when we started getting on the east coast with New York asking for the vaccination cards. A few shows got canceled because they said they had to do COVID testing for everybody. Other than that, it’s been smooth. Touring is definitely back, which is good.
What is coming up for you?
For me, I’m going to continue to lock in with Dreezy… I work with a few other artists like The Heavy Steppers. I throw my own showcases in Chicago. There are quite a few things I want to work on like being an A&R. I’m working on developing an app with my girl who’s in tech. I think it’ll change the world. I’m always deejaying at all the Chicago clubs. I’m really getting ready for the next tour now that touring is back. I’m ready to take it to the next level.