The phrase “hard ticket sale history” might mean nothing to the fans in the crowd at the show, but tour manager Dion Leeks knew the concept was essential for Young Dolph to grow into the star he became. As much as Leeks helped artists like Key Glock build, he also saw how Dolph laid the blueprint the young Memphis emcee still follows today.
“Glock grew into his live show by being on tour with Dolph,” Leeks told REVOLT. “You could tell Glock was watching how Dolph moved.”
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” Leeks explains helping 2 Chainz on the road with Drake for “The Club Paradise Tour,” the impact Dolph’s death had on Key Glock’s live shows, and how he’s helped keep Dolph’s legacy alive.
The first major artist you worked with on the road was 2 Chainz for Drake’s “Club Paradise Tour” in 2012. What were your day-to-day duties?
We loaded in merchandise. Chainz was only support for the tour, so a lot of what we did was grassroots. I helped on the promo side. He had his [T.R.U. REALigion] album out during that time too.
What were his shows like on that tour?
For Chainz, he was reintroducing himself, but people knew him to a certain extent. People knew of him from his hit song “Duffle Bag Boy” with Lil Wayne, so that tour was a refresher for him. Songs from T.R.U. REALigion like “Turn Up,” “Riot,” “Riding Thru Clouds,” and “K.O.” with Big Sean got big reactions.
What was the camaraderie between Drake, Chainz, and the other acts on tour?
They all knew each other for years before that tour. They’d do everything from playing basketball games to everything.
You did a few tours with Chainz. What was the most memorable show you were a part of?
We did a show in Johannesburg, South Africa. The way hip hop moved at that time and how it reached other people in other global areas was very memorable for me.
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You’ve also worked with Key Glock, Usher, the late Young Dolph, and others. What were some moments you had to use your resourcefulness to make sure the show happened?
I have stories from every tour. I’ve had buses shut down, police confiscating entire buses, making sure everyone’s travel gets done, and so much more. Overseas was the hardest. The last overseas tour I went on in 2022 was with Key Glock. I did it all by myself. I knew a couple of people overseas, and I put together the travel, tour buses, flights, and different things like that. We were there for 30 days. The biggest thing was not knowing the landscape. You can talk to people and get advice but when you’re over there, you have to make sure the artist is OK with the travel arrangements. That can be a little headache. For example, we had a five-day stretch where we went from France to Prague to Zurich to Berlin. We had flights because those are five to seven-hour drives. But Glock didn’t want to fly because after 20 days of getting busted down at the airport, it gets tiring. So, I had to make accommodations on the fly to ensure that he felt good about the accommodations. We ended up driving the countryside for most of the last ten dates.
How did you connect with Young Dolph?
I started booking shows with my brother, who is also in the music industry. He did bookings for Chainz. When we started booking other acts, we linked with Dolph. He had a lot of street demand and demand at clubs we knew a lot of promoters at. We continued to book shows for him, and the relationship grew from us bringing him shows. When it was time for him to do his “Royalty Tour,” I jumped into the tour management position, and I haven’t looked back since.
What was Dolph’s vision for his “Royalty Tour”?
Dolph is a lot different than any [artist] I’ve ever worked with because he had a vision for everything from shows to marketing to anything. Originally, his vision for “The Royalty Tour” was just getting himself out there. We were doing smaller venues, probably about 400 to 500-cap venues. He was really just trying to build ticket history at ticketed venues. It was his first time stepping into certain markets. He knew if he built his ticket history, he could build his brand, which was PRE.
He was always known for his entrepreneurial talents. How was that reflected in touring?
He was always looking for ways to have his own everything from tour buses to sprinter vans to anything as far as travel. He was trying to purchase it himself. His merchandise and everything was done in-house. It was him pressing them up himself, putting them out, going on tour himself. He always wanted to figure it out himself. He might use a vendor the first time, but he would figure it out after. He also wanted to invest in his show. He invested a lot of money into the production of his show. From set pieces to dancers to bands, we covered it all.
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How did his live show evolve over the years?
The demand changed the most. He became more in demand as the years went on. On his first tour, he had a video wall. A lot of people typically go onstage and have a DJ riser, and put a skirt over the table to save some money. But, he did it bigger at smaller venues. We knew if we were going to build a ticket history and ticket demand, we had to give people something to see that was different than the next person.
One of the artists he was the closest with was Key Glock. How did Dolph help him with his live show?
He helped him tremendously. Glock grew into his live show by being on tour with Dolph. He was able to see someone command the stage, demand things from the crowd, and the crowd responding from those demands. They would go back and forth onstage with songs and verses. That helped him build his character.
What was their relationship like offstage?
It was a big brother/nephew type of relationship. You could tell Glock was watching how Dolph moved. He could see what he needed to do by watching what Dolph was doing.
What do you remember about Dolph’s final show?
His last show was actually at the University of Memphis the week he passed. It was their homecoming show. It was his hometown show at a packed gym.
What did you have planned for Dolph in 2022?
Dolph was going to go on tour at the top of the year, and Key Glock was going on after him. So, we ended up moving Key Glock’s tour up earlier in Dolph’s place.
Did you notice Dolph’s death affecting Key Glock while he was on that first tour following his passing?
Honestly, the biggest impact was on the fans. The fans came out in droves to support Glock and PRE. Glock would always do a tribute in his music. Glock’s first show back was an Atlanta show at Buckhead Theatre [on April 4, 2022]. The whole PRE was there. Everybody got onstage to do a set.
What do you have coming for the rest of the year and in 2023?
We’re doing spot dates, and then 2023 is a new Key Glock tour. We’re planning that right now.
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