Styles P is the last of a dying breed of hip hop artists who have mastered the craft of touring by not rapping over his lyrics onstage, learning from the greats, and not defecating on the tour bus. After over 25 years of performing, he still remembers the lessons he learned all the way back in 1997 on the “No Way Out Tour” with Bad Boy Records.
“I give Puff [Daddy] credit for making sure that the show looks good, and he puts that work ethic in. He makes sure the artist is doing what they have to do. I learned a lot on that tour. I saw what showmanship was on an arena-type level. I had a great time on that tour,” Styles P told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” The LOX founding member explains what made the “Cash Money/Ruff Ryders Tour” in 2000 special, how his eating habits on the road changed over the years, and why he’s no longer dropping solo albums after his next two projects.
Twenty-five years ago, you and The LOX went on your first major tour with Bad Boy Records. What was your approach to life on the road back in 1997?
Our approach was to bust our a**es out there. I give Puff [Daddy] credit for making sure that the show looks good, and he puts that work ethic in. He makes sure the artist is doing what they have to do. I learned a lot on that tour. I saw what showmanship was on an arena-type level. I had a great time on that tour. I also learned timing. If you want to get into a state, make sure you get there early enough because all tour buses leave at different times. So, we learned to give ourselves enough room to get to the next place, get rest, and do what we must do.
What other rules have you learned?
Don’t s**t in the bathroom, and don’t be late for the bus. You have to respect everybody’s time. That’s a D-Block/LOX rule. I can’t say that’s for everybody, but for us, it is. You have to make sure when you’re leaving, the people who came with you are with you. Make sure when you go to the after-party, they’re with you. Make sure when you’re leaving the after-party, they’re with you. You learn the foods you need and what supermarkets to stop at. With us, you get a fine if you take a s**t on the bus. We had a tour bus driver named Roy. He told us the way we party and do things ain’t s**t (laughs). He said he loved touring with us because he had been on the road with a lot of heavy metal groups and rock artists. He said, “You guys don’t break anything. You don’t get kicked out of the hotel. I don’t have to get woken up for anything to leave on the spot.” He knew we had our s**t together.
I’ve also seen him come in the back and talk to us without a second driver. So I’m thinking, “Who the f**k is driving?” He had a way of putting on autopilot, or he knew the road so well. I thought that was pretty amazing. Also, you learn where to eat and where not to eat. Fortunately, I’ve changed now, and became a little easier. But back then, if I went into a restaurant and ain’t see anybody Black or Spanish, I just left.
One of the most iconic LOX shows was at The Apollo Theater with DMX for his “Survival of the Illest Tour” in 1998. What was it like performing with him?
It was like one, two. When you work so hard for years, and you have dreams of getting there together, you have a good time fu**ing something up together. We were able to rock with our brother. God bless him. We had a “f**k it up” mentality because it was us performing with our brother.
How did those shows prepare you for your early solo tours?
Those were walks in the park. Coming from a group and then being on my own solo tour solo was really easy, to be honest with you. By then, I knew how to work the hotel, the travel, the stage, and everything.
Over the last 25 years, how has your rider evolved?
I have more natural, organic, and healthy food. Before, it was liquor and whatever foods we were into. Now I eat cleaner, so the foods are cleaner. Now it’s almonds, pecans, fruits, veggies, and water. Sometimes I’ll ask for towels, T-Shirts, tank tops, incense, and ginger beer.
What was the most memorable tour you were on?
That would be the “Cash Money/Ruff Ryders Tour.” What stuck out to me the most was the homeboy and family aspect of the whole tour behind the scenes. I think Cash Money had their whole family with them — aunts, uncles, nephews, and babies. With Ruff Ryders, we had a s**tload of us, homies, and this and that. There was unity amongst us all besides being on tour. Hmm. The “No Way Out Tour” and the “Cash Money/Ruff Ryders Tour” were two different tours. One was glitter and gold and having everything you want in your dressing room. On tour with Ruff Ryders and Cash Money, you may see all of the supergoons from everywhere and the family aspect of people that were just trying to put it down, survive, make the next dollar… making a lot of money, but doing a bunch of hood s**t. That was pretty incredible to be a part of.
You and The LOX have some of the most dedicated fans. Which fan reactions from your 25-plus-year career stand out to you?
I’ve seen them all, to be honest with you. But, the ones that always stick out the most are when someone tattooed something — one of your bars, or the group name, or one of our names. Or they named their child or pet after you. Also, when someone is shivering and nervous because they’re around you — they love you so much that they can’t control it. It’s surreal and brings you to a humble state of mind.
I always love how you and Jadakiss have moves together onstage to show you are in sync. How deliberate is that?
It happens naturally. Many things happen naturally because it’s all about being in sync when you go in and out. When you’re on tour, some things you do over the years stick with you for life. It feels good. It makes sense. The one thing about The LOX is we all know each other. The other day, I was at a show and watched them all perform over their lyrics. Everybody who came out just performed over their lyrics. As an elder statesman of hip hop, I pulled them to the side and said, “Learn your s**t, so next time you’re performing, you can perform instead of lip-syncing.” For The LOX, we’ve taken the time to master our craft.
What was the rehearsal like for The LOX’s Verzuz battle against Dipset?
We didn’t rehearse that much, but we did rehearse. We were preparing for something people hadn’t seen. From looking at all the other Verzuz battles, we could see that it was mainly about people’s outfits, looking cool, and not doing their s**t. We don’t rhyme over records. Also ‘Kiss was already experienced at it. He did what he had to do with [Fabolous], which made it easy. We also had been touring so much recently, we could show that we knew each other’s lines and supported each other. It only took a few rehearsals to be in sync. We knew they were going to say this or think this about us at this particular time. So, we’re going to come out a little different than everybody else and perform.
Verzuz is just one way artists are generating money outside of touring. You’ve been doing the same in another arena: NFTs.
I’m the No. 1 music NFT in the world right now. If you go to OpenSea and look at who’s the No. 1 music NFT, it’ll be me. You have to venture out. You have to be smarter. I remember years ago when they told me what the computer would do, and I don’t own any Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. I don’t think it’s wise to keep missing out on s**t. So, I made sure to invest my time into thinking about what I wanted to do on Web3. Farmacy Fantoms is the No. 1 music NFT in the world. You could go to the OpenSea platform and see. We’re not just trending on music; we’re trending in NFTs, period. Last year, I did a different NFT called Ghost Bull with the Wall Street Bulls. You have to have enough vision to understand how to get your s**t into different markets, man.
What do you have coming up in 2023?
I’m going to release my last two solo albums. I’m not quitting in totality, but I am quitting making solo albums after these two joints. I’d rather be in Web3 making a different type of art and collaborating with people than putting myself in a box. I don’t really like boxes like that. I always try to find a way to do something new and different from everyone. I have a lot of things in mind. I’m trying to move more toward the future and health. I’ll still be there as a member of The LOX and for my collaborative projects, but I’ll be exploring the Web3 space.