Before you heard of Blxst, his manager Victor “VicThaRuler” Burnett was helping build his career. He helped make sure the artist’s tours went off without a hitch and has watched as legends embrace the young star.
“[Snoop Dogg] told Blxst, ‘I’m about to put out a project, if you got something for me, let me know.’ Blxst gave him the song and then was like, ‘I got a show tonight. Let’s trade this song for this show appearance.’ Snoop was like, ‘I’m with that,’” Burnett told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” Blxst’s manager explains how hands-on the artist is with his tour production, celebrities showing Blxst love, and what they have planned in 2022. Read below!
How did you connect with Blxst?
When I got out of college, I went to grad school. When I graduated from grad school, I came back home and started working for the director Benny Boom at the end of 2016. I was an intern doing product development and facility management. I designed all of the merch for the All Eyez on Me movie, and then we launched Dame Dash Studios with the production company, as well. We did all of Dame Dash’s merchandise and backend content. So, through that, they let me run the facility. They let me build a music studio inside by the end of 2017. When I built the studio, I was doing consultations on how to monetize content as well as teaching independent artists how to use the proper marketing platforms. Blxst came up to rent the studio out in 2018 and became a repeat client. I started doing the consultation I did for other artists for Blxst for free. I was putting myself in a position to do whatever was needed at the time. After working together from 2018 – 2019, Blxst hit me one day in a studio session like, “You should be my manager. Let’s lock it in.”
What was the first time you saw Blxst perform live?
Bino [Rideaux] and Blxst released Sixtape, and Bino had his first show at The Roxy Theater [on December 29, 2019]. Blxst was the supporting act for Bino. Too many people around that time didn’t know Blxst for his individual music. They knew him more for the collaborative mixtape with Bino. We had a full band, two background singers, and we really went all out on the showmanship side. But, we didn’t have the music to translate at the time.
Over the years, how did you help develop his live show?
First, it was building a team and having enough people on the team to service his needs. We had to get people to make sure his audio was correct. We had to have people coordinate with his DJ. We always did rehearsals. Blxst is super big on rehearsals. Anytime he has a show, he’s doing three rehearsals a week on top of vocal lessons and exercises. Gym + vocal lessons + rehearsals made the show what it is.
What was the first Blxst show where you knew you all had something special?
On Bino’s run of shows, he did The Observatory in Orange County [on January 4, 2020], and Blxst came out for that show as well. Every time Blxst’s part came on in one of his songs with Bino, you could feel the wind from the crowd yelling the words back at him. There was a moment during the set when Blxst looked back at me like, ‘Damn, is this real?’”
How did the pandemic affect Blxst’s planned live shows in 2020?
On the live show side, it didn’t affect us at all. The pandemic kicked off before Blxst released No Love Lost, so we really had no plans for tours. We were thinking about putting together an independent tour of shows, but it was nothing concrete. By the time we got to the pandemic, it was more time for the branding aspect. The pandemic actually helped us in the way the playing field got evened. The big artists couldn’t make the moves they wanted to because the type of production they needed to make for their large-scale visions didn’t add up to what the pandemic was allowing to happen as far as people in live spaces. So, it came down to creativity and who could put out the best content. I feel like we took that leap because we have a great team of creatives. Blxst is also a great creative who does all his graphics, post-production on his videos, and mixing, mastering, and producing all of his own music.
His “No Love Lost Tour” in 2021 was his first headlining tour. Do you feel any of the music he made for No Love Lost was influenced by the live show he wanted to have?
For sure. When Blxst is in the studio, he’s always in a position when he sings his songs out loud, it doesn’t sound like a song that can just be performed in a studio. Every song on Blxst project can be performed live.
What was a typical show for him?
Fun fact about that is when we got to Seattle for the first show [at Chop Suey on September 14, 2021], Blxst spent 14 hours making his hour and a half stage graphics that plays behind him on screen. Blxst kicked off the tour like, “I don’t like these graphics. I’m going to do them myself.” The screen in the background with the graphics was there because we wanted every show to feel like a big performance. We also had no openers except from one named Larrenwong in Oakland. We kicked every show off around 9:45 p.m. and gave an hour long show. He had one background dancer and a DJ up there.
What was your day-to-day role on that tour?
I’m also the president of EVGLE, Blxst and I own the company together. We have five full-time employees on the payroll, so we hired everything internally. Alison, the tour manager, is also the general manager of EVGLE, so she ran that. My pops is Blxst’s head of security. My dad has had a security company my entire life, so that was an easy transition. I’m just monitoring everybody, making sure I’m doing all of the weekly payouts, and everybody is getting per diem. I was in charge of transportation, and everything went smoothly.
What were his tour hits?
“Gang Slide” always went crazy. I attribute that to Blxst’s conversational transitions between his music because he has a whole conversational piece throughout each and every one of his songs that transitions into the next song. For “Gang Slide,” he’d ask everyone what they were doing after the show after midnight, and then “Gang Slide” would come on, and the crowd would go crazy. Also, “Be Alone” and “Forever Humble.”
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Any celebs show love to Blxst at his shows?
Yeah, when we performed in D.C. [at Union Stage on October 3, 2021], we played a 600-cap room, and [Washington Wizards player] Kyle Kuzma was standing in the corner with a hoodie on. In New York, Funk Flex opened up both shows for us. He came out on the love and GP (general principle). He was like, “I just want to be involved with what you got going on. Let me know what time to be there and what time to set up. I’ll be there for soundcheck.” He showed us max love.
What are some issues you had that you learned from?
Just being proactive instead of reactive. That just means accounting for everything when it has to do with the stage and travel times. This was our first tour, and we booked all of the hotels and rental cars ourselves — being cost appropriate. But, this time around, we’re not doing that again. We’re going to go about this professionally since we have experience under our belt. We’ll be more proactive by booking stuff ahead of time. Although it wasn’t a hindrance, it can be less stressful.
What are some activities you all got into on the road?
Definitely bowling (laughs). Obviously, we went to different food places in different spots. Blxst is really vegan, so eating with him is very picky and selective. He’s also not the type of vegan person who’s like, “Oh, I can’t go to any other place.”
Since he’s vegan, what’s on his rider?
We always have tequila, healthy snacks, granola bars, and stuff like that. It also depends on what restaurants are in the area, but Blxst definitely messes with Mexican food because it’s easy to get a rice and bean burrito (laughs). It’s easier to transfer Mexican food to vegan food.
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One of the most impressive shows on that tour was in L.A. at The Roxy when Snoop Dogg came out. How did that happen?
Snoop recently did his thing with Def Jam, and we have a close friend Moe who is an A&R at Def Jam. He’s been working pretty closely with Snoop and told us Snoop was a fan and wanted us to come through to play some music and chop it up. The relationship started with us just pulling up on him. He told Blxst, “I’m about to put out a project. If you got something for me, let me know.” Blxst gave him the song and then was like, “I got a show tonight. Let’s trade this song for this show appearance.” Snoop was like, “I’m with that.” The L.A. show was so legendary because you also had Dom Kennedy in the building. All that music is the music we grew up listening to at some point in our lives. Both of those artists coming out for Blxst and showing love to him at a small venue like The Roxy was huge.
Blxst did a few festival performances in 2021. Did he connect with any artists backstage?
To be honest, not really because we started doing festivals in the pandemic. The way they’ve been running these festivals is they’ll bring you to the green room when it’s your time slot. Actually, Shordie Shordie was at Rolling Loud Miami. He and Blxst connected in the Artist Lounge, and they ended up doing the song “Specific” that dropped.
What’s coming up in 2022?
Blxst is working on new music right now. The first thing would be to put that out. Then, we’re going to go on tour this year and definitely hit Europe. The two London shows we did [in October 2021] were sold out. Being able to sell 5,000 tickets in under seven minutes in an entire other country is amazing. Festivals in the European market are going to be big, as well. We’re really just going to be trying to set a bigger bar.