Photo: Getty
  /  11.15.2022

Since 2009, touring professional Dre Bouie has done it all from helping Young Money artists with street promo on Lil Wayne’s “America’s Most Wanted Tour” to making sure BIA moshes safely at her shows. For the latter, he’s seen firsthand how she’s changed her plans in order to capture unforgettable moments on stage.

“We were supposed to do five different countries for the summer festival run, but we found out last minute Cole was going to be playing in London the day after us. So, we moved some stuff around for us to be able to perform the record ‘LONDON’ in London with J. Cole,” Bouie told REVOLT.

In this installment of “Tour Tales,” the longtime touring professional explains why he sometimes gets nervous when BIA interacts with fans at shows, how J. Lo was too powerful for Madison Square Garden, and how he helped grow Drake’s star on his first tour with Lil Wayne in 2009.

Who was the first major artist you went on tour with?

Lil Wayne on the “America’s Most Wanted Tour” in 2009. That was my very first tour out of the gate. Old school heads Malcolm Miles and Mel Smith from Bad Boy Records, that ended up over at YMCMB, took me under their wing. I was doing street team and promotions for that tour. I was helping with club dates, radio shows, and anything that had to do with getting Drake popping. Nicki [Minaj] pretty much had a name already, but she was still coming out doing support for certain cities with Young Money. But the focus, as far as the promotions, was Drake.

Before that tour, his So Far Gone mixtape came out. Did you see any direct impact on Drake’s popularity while on the road?

Yeah. During that time, BET was coming to film a sort of day-in-a-life production. They came out for maybe two weeks and followed him around because he was the breakout artist, especially from that mixtape. People started to pay attention to him on that tour.

At that time, Wayne was the main attraction. What was his set like?

He made it look easy. That’s a credit to the work he’s put in since he was a teenager. He made captivating an audience of like 30,000 look easy. 

What would you say is the first tour that you managed?

It would have to be A$AP Rocky and the Cozy Boys. I actually did this tour with my friend Justin [Weatherspoon]. So, Justin handled all of the A-party and their movements. I handled all of the B-party, which were the Cozy Boys. There were eight of them. So, we did double duty on production. Ferg was there, but he didn’t do the entire tour. He had a couple of other things going on at the same time, so he would pop in on major cities. It was shocking for me to see the Bay Area take so well to a bunch of cats from Harlem.

You also toured with one of the most eccentric artists in hip-hop — Danny Brown. What was it like? How did he put his show together?

I got a more mature Danny Brown than what people may know about from his reputation. His lifestyle changed when I worked with him. As far as his creativity and how involved he is, he does all of it. He and his DJ, SKYWLKR, put together a show that will creatively take you on a journey that shows the growth of who Danny is today. I appreciate that the most because I, too, am a little older, and there are certain things you just don’t want to put up with anymore on the road because that’s a young man’s game. There are certain rules to abide by to stay out of trouble. That’s the Danny Brown I got, but I heard the stories of the Danny Brown he used to be.

Switching gears: Didn’t you also tour with J. Lo?

Yeah, man. That was the wildest thing ever. Everything was compartmentalized. I was there filling in for one of the homies. He had the dancers from J. Lo’s show “World of Dance” who were openers and part of her main set. We would pull into the arena around seven in the morning, have breakfast, do the load in, and then sometimes the dancers would have rehearsals in the day. They would go through dress rehearsals all over again. It was an entire production. Everything had a section. There was a section for these people, there’s another section for this crew, there’s another section for that crew, and we all met in the middle of the arena to make one show happen. It was nice for me to see it like that. I never saw her until two hours before the show. She only showed up during the day if there was something they had to rework during the set. They spent months in rehearsals before we even got to the part where I came in, so they were already fine-tuned by the time I got there.

We did Madison Square Garden twice. One night, there was a power outage. Her show was putting out too much power, and the power at Madison Square Garden went out. Then, she did three nights in Miami. The demographic range she had was impressive. There were kids in middle school and high school who were into dance. Then, my age bracket knew of her from “In Living Color.” Then, the grandmas and our parents loved her for her movies. She had people showing up to her shows with three generations of families in there.

 

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Back to your hip hop work. Not too long ago, you helped BIA with several shows. I saw her perform with J. Cole in London.

That was at Wireless Festival. In March, we went out to film the music video for her record “LONDON.” We were supposed to do five different countries for the summer festival run, but we found out last minute Cole was going to be playing in London the day after us. So, we moved some stuff around for us to be able to perform the record “LONDON” in London with J. Cole. And that was a huge moment. It was one of those moments where it felt like if I hadn’t made it before tonight, I definitely made it now. 

We’ve interviewed her DJ, DJ Papadon, but I’d love to hear about BIA’s dedication to her live show from a tour manager’s perspective.

I’ve watched her make sacrifices to better the show. She’s not much of a dancer, but she likes to perform and wanted to step her game up. So, she went out and got four new dancers, and now she’s doing choreography. At the time, she wasn’t very comfortable using her in-ear monitors. But, I had to explain to her that as you grow and you get on larger stages, you’ll need the in-ear monitors because they won’t have wedges on some of the larger stages. In-ear monitors literally dead out everything. So, people often want to feel the crowd, and you can’t. You don’t get much feel in the monitors unless you get your mixed dialed-in right. 

Have you seen the same type of growth with somebody like a Polo G, who you’ve worked with on the road?

Cap’s different because he has a different audience, so you have to adjust the treatment you would use with one artist. His audience is younger college students. He speaks to them directly. Polo will be on stage saying the very thing that a college student might actually be going through. 

 

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To that point, what are some interesting fan interactions you’ve seen at shows?

I like BIA‘s fan interactions because she touches them when she gets out into the crowd and safely moshes. That’s big for her to get out there. It has me a little on edge sometimes because she is a [woman], wears jewelry, and people in the crowd aren’t always the most polite. Depending on her outfit, she might not need to be out there. But she’ll go anyway. She’ll go out in the sand and dirt with heels on. I’m like, “Yo, wait a minute! These people want to touch you and feel you, but that’s not necessarily the time and space for it.” Sometimes it could be a little disrespectful, and I never want to see a situation like that go down. It’s a little different with dudes. Granted, groping happens to dudes too, but it has a different effect when, you know, it’s a female artist.

What do you have coming up for the rest of the year and 2023?

I’m doing fly dates right now for the rest of 2022. For 2023, I’m still negotiating some stuff, but I plan on doing headline tours this spring. I can’t say which artist, but it’ll be big.

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