/  05.31.2022

DJ Limelightz has deejayed overseas with Gucci Mane and is preparing to help Babyface Ray with his biggest headlining tour yet. But, his national touring history begins in 2014 with an emerging Dej Loaf, who’d yet to blow up like he knew she could.

“I remember the crowd was packed and turned up for that girl before ‘Try Me’ really blew up across the world,” DJ Limelightz told REVOLT. “I remember when ‘Try Me’ wasn’t a record yet. I remember calling her like, ‘This might be the one.’” 

In this installment of “Tour Tales,” DJ Limelightz discusses what he and Dej learned while traveling with Nicki Minaj on “The Pinkprint Tour,” how a Snapchat call led to him deejaying for Gucci Mane, and what he and Babyface Ray have in store for “The Sincerely Face Tour.”  

You did shows with Dej Loaf early in her career in 2014. How did you first connect with her?

It’s crazy how the Dej Loaf stuff started. I was part of a click at the time, and we were popular in Detroit. They kept saying they wanted to bring Dej on the team. I was already deejaying for a few artists so I was initially like, ‘I can’t do it.’ But, I did it one day without knowing her history or her music, and the crowd went a little crazy. So, I did my research and realized she was really dope. Then, we built from that. We did our first show in Oakland, California. I remember the crowd was packed and turned up for that girl before ‘Try Me’ really blew up across the world. We’ve been together from the start. I remember when ‘Try Me’ wasn’t a record yet. I remember calling her like, ‘This might be the one.’ 

After watching her perform early on, what did you notice about her live show?

I felt she knew how to grab the room’s attention, whether it was how she dressed or her demeanor. She was a star.  Dej was the first national artist I worked with. 

As an experienced DJ, what tips or advice did you give her to improve?

I used to tell her being nervous can kill you. I told her she had to act like she’d been there before. That was our biggest thing. Going out, rocking out and keeping the energy up was big because the fans can tell if you’re nervous. I tell every artist I work with, ‘You act nervous, the fans can read that energy quickly, and they’ll shut you down.’

 

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Since she was the first national artist you toured with, what did you learn with her on the road?

We learned you have to give the same energy to a small crowd that you’d give to a big crowd. You can’t get too intoxicated before shows because you want to give the best experience to the fans. You don’t want to be sloppy. That’s what I picked up early on. 

What mistakes have you made as a DJ while developing chemistry with an artist?

With Dej, we were doing a big concert in California, and we brought Lil Durk out. I jumped up and down, turning up, and my laptop fell and closed (laughs). It did it on beat, so it didn’t look like the biggest mistake in the world. I got the laptop opened back up and got back going. I learned I don’t really trust laptop stands when I deejay. I now use one of the road cases the turntable equipment comes in. I make them get me an empty case, and I set my laptop on there because it’s sturdy, flat, and doesn’t move. Ask any production manager — when I check the stage, I tell them, ‘I don’t think that laptop stand is going to work.’ I also remember being overseas with Gucci. I started a song and a few seconds in, I mistakenly skipped through the song to a whole different part of the song. It may sound like a small mistake, but it was an ugly mistake at the time

You were there in the beginning of Dej’s career when the accommodations weren’t always the best. So, how did you two hustle on the road to get to where you are now?

We did a lot of driving to shows. Our manager had a decent bag on him at the time, so we didn’t super struggle but we didn’t always fly Delta. We were on Spirit and JetBlue sometimes. Some of those flights were layovers back then. Now, we get nonstop flights. We really paid our dues on the travel side. We’d get to the venue and not have a dressing room to change in. We’d have to change in the crowd. We’d take that road trip to Cleveland or Milwaukee to get that bag. It wasn’t always hotels and flights. I remember being down south with Dej and doing two or three shows in Louisiana in a day and a half.

 

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How did you notice “Try Me” affect the live show?

It gave her a hit. It changed her performing in nightclubs to actually being able to get on some stages. Every artist doesn’t go through performing in strip clubs and nightclubs. You get a record, and you go from that to being on stage for Summer Jam and other radio shows. A hit puts you in the game

What’s your favorite performance you’ve done with Dej?

All the BET Awards shit. We did BET Awards [in] LA. We did BET’s Hip-Hop Awards in Atlanta. I loved all of those. That shit was life-changing. It added another tier to my game. We also did “The Pinkprint Tour” with Nicki [Minaj]

What was that tour like?

That was my first national tour with 30-40 dates. That was one of the best experiences I’ve had on the road because I learned. I’m a nerd. I was able to network and learn so much it helped me with what I’m doing now. I’m seasoned when I come around now. I’m not the guy learning. You had Meek Mill, Rae Sremmurd, Tinashe, us, and Nicki backstage. Rae Sremmurd’s clique and ours got close because we were the youngest on the tour.

What was the camaraderie like backstage?

In the beginning with any tour, everybody is friends and trying to feel everybody out in the first four or five shows. Nicki is in a different bag. She flies in private. While you may be on stage, her plane may be flying in. There was camaraderie, but you see how much this is a business as the tour goes on. Some people be superstars. This shit is a business for them. There ain’t no hanging out at the bus. They don’t really have idle time like that. 

What are some things you and Dej did outside of the stage that helped build your bond?

I used to enjoy the car rides a lot because she had a lot of music. Hearing a lot of that unreleased music makes you look at your artist like, ‘Ahh, so you’ve been working.’ I used to really enjoy that vibe. She’d ask me, ‘Lime, what do you think about this?’ I feel that’s important for an artist and a DJ. If anyone is going to keep it 1000 with you, it should be your DJ

What was on her rider? How has it changed?

I feel the rider was nothing at first (laughs). You don’t get shit besides getting all of your people in. Then, we started to get salmon on the rider. We started getting water and salad. But, here’s some free game: Make sure they aren’t putting that food out too early because you’ll get sick. I don’t like to eat heavy before shows so I may make my plate after. Sometimes, when you’re coming up and telling them to get you all of these foods like Popeyes, that food may be sitting from three o’clock, and you don’t show up until 9. Them biscuits are going to be hard as hell.

Besides deejaying, you were at some big shows. For example, you were at early Big Sean shows. 

Big Sean and I were really close back in the day. Sean always looked out. I went to school in Ohio, and I remember Sean coming to Bowling Green, Ohio, to turn concerts up. I remember Sean had Drake come out at his show in Detroit. He had Drake at The Majestic Theater. 

What was a Big Sean show like?

His show was so crazy. Back then, Kendrick [Lamar] was coming out. J. Cole was coming out. Wale was coming out. All of those rappity rap guys were coming out, so a Big Sean show back then had a very diverse crowd. He came from nothing.

 

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Your first time performing with Gucci Mane came after someone offered you the opportunity an hour before the show. 

I knew his security guard at the time. I was asleep on the couch at home, and I got a call on my Snapchat. He hung up, and then he wrote me on Snapchat asking, ‘Are you in Detroit? Call me.’ At the time, I had no idea he worked for Gucci. He calls me and said, ‘Are you busy?’ I told him, ‘Nah. I’m actually on the couch about to take a nap.’ He told me, ‘We’re in Detroit, and something happened with our DJ. We need you to come deejay for Gucci Mane.’ I didn’t even have a laptop to deejay with. When I stopped working for Dej, certain promoters didn’t want to pay what I felt I was worth. So, I wasn’t really going out. I started producing. I wasn’t in DJ mode. I had to call my patna J-3 to borrow his laptop. He met me down at the spot. I met with Gucci’s team, and they gave me a thumb drive with all of the songs on there. I didn’t talk to Gucci or nothing. The DJ who he had, DJ Champ, gave me the rundown on how he was doing it. Then, I did it. I did it good enough because after the show when we went back to the hotel, they were like, ‘We pay on this day. Do you have your passport?’ That shit moved fast. 

You were in Quebec with him a month later.

They called me a week after the first show, and I flew down to Atlanta to deejay for Gucci when he did Birthday Bash with Lil Baby. He doesn’t like to sit around. He likes to pull up and get on the stage. 

Gucci has some of the most dedicated fans. What’s the most intriguing fan interaction you’ve seen happen with him?

The other day, we were doing Drai’s in Las Vegas. This man is performing and loses his bracelet. He kept performing like nothing was going on. There’s a girl on the side trying to get his attention, so his security comes over to her. The girl is trying to give him his bracelet back. Can you believe that? He stopped the show and said, ‘I lost my bracelet and was going to keep on performing like nothing happened, and this girl gave me my bracelet back.’ He ended up giving her a stack of cash. He was like, ‘Bring my bookbag out here’ and blessed her with some cheese. 

How did you connect with Babyface Ray?

We’re from the same city, so we’ve been running into each other for years. I ended up deejaying for him because our mutual friend Sam connected the dots. I think Babyface’s first Rolling Loud show was coming up. This was in 2021

What do you have planned for the “The Sincerely Face Tour” with Babyface Ray? 

I can’t wait to get on that tour. I want to meet a lot of new fans. I want to get some of this merchandise out to these fans. I want to meet some new deejays in some of these cities. I might do something special where I let some of these deejays do an opening set.

What do you have coming up for the rest of the year?

I plan on doing a lot of production and keeping things pushing. I’m trying to take this thing to the next level. I’m motivated by guys like DJ Drama and DJ Khaled and how they turned the DJ culture from just being a club DJ to bigger than that with endorsements and hit records

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