Mississippi native T. Lewis considers himself the world’s greatest DJ, and he’s backed his claim up by working with arguably the best rapper alive for nearly a decade. Before they embark on the “Welcome To Tha Carter Tour,” he broke down how he keeps the energy intact during a Lil Wayne show and how the Young Money leader is always right even when he’s wrong.
“This one time, we were performing either ‘6 Foot 7 Foot’ or ‘I’m Going In,’ and he performed the lyrics to the opposite song,” DJ T. Lewis told REVOLT. “I hyped him up. Everybody in the crowd didn’t know what was going on. Me, Wayne, and everybody around were dying laughing. We made it work.”
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” Lil Wayne’s DJ of the last nine years explains how he has gone this long without the living legend ever critiquing his performance, how a Made in America show lifted Wayne’s spirits, and how fans are about to enter into a new era of the icon’s career. Read the exclusive conversation below!
You deejayed for Lil Wayne during the club tour for his Sorry 4 The Wait 2 mixtape in 2015. What was your first show with him outside of the club?
My first out-of-the-club show with Wayne was at Oracle Arena [for KMEL Summer Jam on June 13, 2015]. Before that, Wayne did a show, and it didn’t go how he wanted it to, so [Young Money] hit me saying, “You have to come to do this show.” I didn’t get the music until I landed. I had to fly out first thing the next day after I got the call to come do the show. There was a situation with Wayne’s old DJ, but it wasn’t his fault solely. People make mistakes.
How did you adjust to doing arena shows with Wayne so soon after doing club performances?
This is what’s crazy: Nobody talked with me about anything (laughs). They had faith I would get up there and do what I was supposed to do. Honestly, I was terrified. I wasn’t even dressed for the part because my baggage got lost. So, I wore a T-shirt with some sweats I had flown in. I couldn’t even get my bags or anything because I had to do the show. We went to the after-party, and then I had to leave from there to get my bags, bro. Before the show, [Cortez Bryant] told me, “Wayne is a professional. Follow him, and he will allow you to lead.” That’s all he told me. From that day forward, Wayne and I have never had a conversation about his expectations of the performance. After we did that first performance, he looked at me at the end of the show, dapped me up, and said, “You killed that.” And then he walked off and went on about his business. Since then, it’s been me being the DJ I am and being blessed with the skills I’ve been blessed with. He’s professional. I’m blessed to be able to stay nine years with Lil Wayne with no conversations, no critique, or anything like that.
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What do you pick up on when Wayne performs that the average fan may miss?
Wayne stays in the studio, and he raps every day. We do 30-song sets, so when he’s performing, he’s bound to slip up on something. We do little things and have little indicators to get him back on. It’s not often. Sometimes it was often because of how many shows we were doing and how fast we were changing songs out and stuff. Now, we’re calculated a little bit better. That was something I paid attention to. I have his a cappellas on control now. So if he needs a little assistance or takes a break, I cut his a cappellas on and get him back on. That’s part of me reading my artist. I wanted to make sure Tune knew I had his back.
What was a particularly memorable show you did with Wayne?
The only thing in life I can’t compete with is life. There was one time I remember when he was going through a lot, and we did a ColleGrove show with 2 Chainz at Made in America in Philly. He had just gone on Twitter and said he was over this rap s**t. This was in 2016. I remember [2 Chainz] came to me right before we went on, and Wayne wasn’t even backstage yet. He came to me and said, “We have to get him turned up. He f**k with you. You have to get him turned up.” So, all I was thinking was, “Let me try to get some energy going, so he can feel this love from the crowd.” When he walked out, he was smoking. He was still in his own world. But, the energy from that crowd when he walked out to “Duffle Bag Boy” showed the love was felt. Even after we performed “Duffle Bag Boy,” it was still an eruption, and I told the crowd, “Y’all give it all to him right now!” I’ll never forget that.
Also, while we were doing “The ColleGrove Tour,” there was a point when 2 Chainz was performing, and Wayne and I were resting. While we were resting, I went up to him and said, “Bro, I got your back for life. I want to make sure you feel this now. I got your back forever.” He said, “For sure, love.”
That sort of trust is imperceptible onstage if you’re just there to watch a good show, yet it keeps everything aligned.
Cortez always made sure I understood Lil Wayne is never wrong. This one time, we were performing either “6 Foot 7 Foot” or “I’m Going In,” and he performed the lyrics to the opposite song. If we were performing “6 Foot 7 Foot,” then he was doing the lyrics to that song on the “I’m Going In” beat, or vice versa. You know what I did? I hyped him up. Everybody in the crowd didn’t know what was going on. Me, Wayne, and everybody around were dying laughing. We made it work. I cut the song at the perfect time and everything.
Over the past nine years, which songs have stayed in Lil Wayne’s set list the longest?
“Lollipop” is going to always be on the set list. I’ll never forget the one time “Lollipop” got taken out of the set list. What’s crazy is we were told he said to take it out. But he got onstage, and I think somebody in the crowd had a phone and was screaming, “Lollipop! Lollipop!” They kept asking for it. When we got down to the end of the show, he said, “Wait, we aren’t going to do ‘Lollipop’?” Then, boom, we dropped it. He also enjoys performing “The Motto.” We got a lot of plans for this “Welcome To Tha Carter Tour,” thanks to Karen [Civil]. She got a lot of stuff planned for us.
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What can fans expect from the “Welcome To Tha Carter Tour”?
We started preparing last week. I started rehearsals with Yayo the Drummer. We’re going to rehearse throughout the week. We’re just fine-tuning our show. We had a long talk, and we were saying, “We’re getting ready for a new era of Lil Wayne. So, we have to come with that heat.” So, we went in and touched up a few songs here and there to get the nostalgia back. More so than anything, we want to remind people we do have the best rapper alive with an amazing catalog. I think Karen Civil will release a playlist to prepare everybody for what is coming. I meet with Wayne next week to go over everything with him.
What do you have coming up for the rest of 2023?
You all have to wait and find out what’s next with the Lil Wayne catalog. For DJ T. Lewis, once we get off the tour, or while we’re on tour, I plan on dropping the EP I produced with many new artists. That’s what I’m trying to do right now. I’m doing my duties to the music game as a DJ and an A&R to present some new music. I just dropped a new song with BeatKing and my good friend Dear Silas called “Busit Down.” So, I’m promoting that really for the rest of the year. That’s the goal. Once I finish with this tour, I plan on attacking the club. I do radio at Hot 107.9 Atlanta Monday through Friday at 5 o’clock. I’m just trying to keep the pressure going. I’m trying to keep the DJ T. Lewis footprint out there.
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