When you see Waka Flocka Flame’s hair ripping through the air and head banging violently as he expels enough energy to hype up any crowd, you’re watching 15-plus years of live performance history from the defunct Atlanta club Figure 8 to the big stages of Dreamville Festival.
“I was performing with no songs in 2006. I was going to the club performing Gucci [Mane]’s s**t. I was performing Frenchie and OJ [Da Juiceman]’s s**t. That’s because I was pushing my n**gas. If you were my dawg who had music, I swear to God, I’d be in the VIP busting it to yo’ s**t,” Waka Flocka tells REVOLT.
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” the Brick Squad leader explains how he connected with the deaf community at a show, how he performed at Dreamville Festival without a set list, and what he’s doing for the first time in his career. Read the exclusive conversation with Waka Flocka below, plus a quick cameo from DJ Whoo Kid.
What did you think of your Dreamville Festival performance?
I loved it. I knew Black people would be at the festival. You know what I’m saying? I’m being petty (laughs). Honestly, I didn’t know North Carolina was this much of a vibe. It’s a vibe. Later tonight is going to be lit. I’m here to stay.
How long before the festival did you put together your show?
I don’t put together shows. I never in my life put together a show. I let the DJ be a DJ because only a DJ knows how to capture the crowd. I know how to entertain them. I know no artist on Earth can f**k with me like that. Get rid of all the glitz and glam, get a microphone, and I’ll eat you apart. Yo, we didn’t plan this set. The first time I saw [DJ] Whoo Kid today was him getting onstage. He just flew in. He had a whole show last night.
DJ Whoo Kid: We had no set list.
If there’s no set list for your shows, how do you prepare for a performance, Waka?
I don’t eat before my show. I go on an empty stomach. I get full off the show. The show feeds me.
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Dreamville Festival fed you good?
Fed me good. I’m good. I’m energized like a motherf**ker. It’s crazy because I can perform, and the crowd gives me energy, and I can give them energy. I promise to God; I don’t even remember. I don’t plan anything. I just let the angels take over. I let the ancestors take over, bro.
I have to ask about the guy who was running all around, climbing everything.
That’s my artist Loudiene. He’s like DMX mixed with Ol’ Dirty Bastard. And that explains that. I didn’t plan anything he did. Over there is my other artist from Memphis, Paid Pat. He’s No. 1 on Amazon Music and just got to No. 3 on Apple. That’s Jimmy The Rocket. That’s Brick Squad. I’m ready to put my artists out. For the first time in my 15-year career, I got a real label because I really know what to do.
Let’s take it back: What was your first-ever performance like?
My first-ever live performance was at Figure 8 in Atlanta. It was not like the Atlanta clubs today. There wasn’t any bottle service. That was like a warehouse. It was like New York’s The Tunnel. Figure 8 was The Tunnel of Atlanta. Anybody in Atlanta knows you couldn’t go in there with jewelry on and be a rapper — nobody could ever save you. You couldn’t go in there and get on the dance floor and play. Nobody could save you. This was in 2008. I was performing with no songs in 2006. I was going to the club performing Gucci [Mane]’s s**t. I was performing Frenchie and OJ [Da Juiceman]’s s**t. That’s because I was pushing my n**gas. If you were my dawg who had music, I swear to God, I’d be in the VIP busting it to yo’ s**t. I’d be pushing and jumping in the crowd to your s**t before I was a rapper because I wanted us to make it.
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How has your touring career evolved over the years?
I do at least 170 shows a year without a tour. My spot dates are a tour. The tours are generic. I don’t like stuff like Rolling Loud and festivals — except Dreamville Fest — because I’m too far from the people. I love intimate s**t. I’m about to do a tour. I think it’s about that time. I should do a classic tour. It’s not going to be how this is set up. I’m going to change the game with setting it up. I want to be with the people. I have to be with the people.
What did you learn about touring from your younger days?
Stay away from bread. Stay away from pasta. Stay away from rice and french fries on tour — that’s the only way you’ll stay slim. Eat fiber in the morning. You have to oxidate yourself.
Your live shows are chaotic, and you do a lot of head-banging. Have you ever injured yourself?
I never got injured during a show. The human body can do anything you train to do. I don’t think [about injuries]. I think if you think like that, it’ll hurt.
Aside from your major Billboard smashes, what are your tour hits?
“Karma,” “Rooster in My Rari,” “Bustin’ at ‘Em,” “Luv Dem Gun Sounds,” “Clap,” “50K,” and a bunch of other songs.
Have you had any fan interactions that stick out to you?
My favorite fan interaction was when I got introduced to the deaf community. Them folk were so genuine. They showed me love without worries, bro. I ain’t never experienced that until I met them. They go off vibration. They showed me the art of vibration. They showed me where love vibrates. I promised to God to apply that everywhere in my life, and it actually helps me out.
What do you have coming up for the rest of 2023?
I’m dropping Brick Squad.
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