*

Tour Tales | DJ Ray G went from having $200 to his name to Cardi B's tour DJ for her comeback

Keith Nelson Jr

 // Nov 6, 2018

Katherine Tyler // iHeart Radio

Musicians are barely getting a slice of music industry revenue, largely eating off of live performances instead. For 'Tour Tales,' we dig into the rider requests, delayed shows, diligent preparation, and future of touring by talking with the multitude of people that move behind the scenes. Record executives, photographers, tour managers, artists, and more all break down what goes into touring and why it's still so vital to the livelihood of your favorite artists. What happens on tour stays on 'Tour Tales.'


"Any artist that came up out Atlanta in the last five-to-six years had to come through me, and Mansion Elan."

DJ Ray G has helped to give a platform for once unheralded MCs like Migos to reach the cultural epicenter of Atlanta music scene. But he could've faded into a memory just as easily. On January 10, 2013, Ray G's home was raided by police after surveilling the DJ for three months, according to the DJ in a 2017 interview. After problems with his probation, he spent seven months in prison and was released in May 2017. The reality was grim, and his prospects seemed slim.

"I was just getting out of jail. I ain't have no where to stay. I ain't have no car. I had two kids. I had to rent a room out from my homeboy. I got out with $200 to my name," DJ Ray G told REVOLT TV.

With perseverance, and loyalty from the right people, he's now the self-proclaimed "hottest DJ in the biggest clubs" in Atlanta. But his biggest opportunity is upon him as the DJ for Cardi B's return to touring after spending nearly half of 2018 off the stage while pregnant with her first child, Kulture.

For this installment of Tour Tales, DJ Ray G spoke with REVOLT TV about the demand for touring DJs, how Cardi improvs, and what she has planned for her long-awaited return to touring.

How long have you been Cardi B's DJ? How did that come about?

I've been deejaying for Cardi B for a few months. I was initially the Migos's DJ back in 2011. I pretty much broke their records in the club and all that. I was their tour DJ, as well. I got into a situation and I had to sit down for a little bit. When I got back out, my boy Offset and P [Quality Control Music's CEO and co-founder Pierre "P" Thomas] was like, "Cardi needs a new DJ. Cardi's DJ doesn't have the flavor you do. We want to bring you in." That's how that happened.

What was the first show you did together?

Global Citizen Festival. That was our first main show, but we did Paris, we did Italy, we did a little overseas shit. Just me and her. That was our first time ever working together. There were no rehearsals. It was just 'get on stage and rock it.' The chemistry was crazy.

What did Cardi think of your deejaying the Global Citizen Festival?

I still have the job, right? [Laughs] Alright then.

You speak about breaking Migos's records. How important are you to the Atlanta music scene?

Anyone that was in the north side [of Atlanta] or in the city, they knew about Belushi's and Mansion Elan on Friday. That was me. Any artist that came up out Atlanta in the last five-to-six years had to come through me, and most of the time it was through Mansion Elan. That's where we broke the Migos at, period. Fat Man Key, Two-9. Everybody that came out of the A had to come through me. Had to come through Mansion Elan. Mansion Elan was a fusion between the colleges and the hood niggas, so it's always packed out. You got to see two different worlds. The hood niggas like to pop bottles, be in the section, and show money. The college students liked to party.

You've only done a few shows with Cardi so far, but what's your role as her tour DJ?

I'm pretty much the maestro. She's the point guard. She runs the show, but I'm the maestro. I keep it moving. I keep the pace going. She trusts me.

I saw she did a Bar Mitzvah. How did it come about, and how soon before did you know?

I knew it was happening, but it was like spur of the moment. I flew out there the same day, and my flight landed at 6 o'clock, and the Bar Mitzvah was at 10 p.m. It was cool. I thought it was going to be a bunch of old, Jewish people. But the family was young. The parents were young. They got three little boys. All of them fly as hell. It wasn't your regular Bar Mitzvah. It was lit. If you look at some of the videos, the dad is on stage singing the lines with Cardi. Anytime Cardi B gets on stage, it always stands out. All of it. We just did a show in Texas. She jumped off the stage onto the speakers. Everyone was like, "Ohh!" I was like, "That's Cardi doing Cardi. She's a star."

Have you guys talked about a tour for next year?

Yeah, stay tuned. It's pretty much already confirmed. I can't say too much, but when it drops, it's going to be heavy. Stay tuned. We coming. We just want it to be a full Cardi B experience. That's all we want people to take with them. It's an experience. Not a concert or a show. It's something that might not ever happen ever in your life. I never been tagged so much after a show.

Global Citizen Festival was in Central Park, and you recently did Power 105's Powerhouse event at the Prudential Center. What has it been like performing in front of huge crowds?

It was great. We had a few production issues, but nobody noticed. I enjoyed myself. I got to see New York. That's a tough crowd.

Can you take us inside what the production issues were?

Our show was 45-50 minutes and I didn't have music in my headphones until 28 minutes into the show. It was cool. It's just growing pains. Some people can't adapt. Some people can. The people who can adapt are the ones who win. I've always been that person.

How have your latest shows together improved upon the first?

I can't really say. Pretty much it's just us having to get used to each other. But it's still going right. We noticed that our ain't 100 percent, it's about 99. But we're trying to be at 150 [percent]. She's also a person that adapts and improvs. So when we go on stage every night here, we just feed off each other's energy. We don't really have any problems, at all. There's never been a time where she's been like, "You gotta do this!" When we rehearse, we don't rehearse what we're going to say during our breaks. That's what I mean by "improv." We just freestyle. At Global Citizen Festival, she said, "I'm going to do it raw." She was like, "I don't mean it like that. You saw what happened last time. Kulture!" [Laughs] That was freestyled. You can't buy that shit. There were a bunch of old ass people and people from all over the world busting out dying laughing. That caught me off guard because she was talking about voting, and somehow it ended up at her having a child.

I love how personable she is live. She has one of the best stories in hip hop right now.

Before I was her tour DJ, I deejayed her baby shower. I took my kids with me and they were so hype to see her.

I saw pictures and videos of that baby shower. What was it like?

She wanted to turn up. She was like, "I want some fucking reggae, some hood shit." People were requesting some music and she was like, "Nah, turn that shit the fuck off. I want some hood shit. Put on some Migos."

View this post on Instagram

Cardi B’s Baby Shower: A Bronx Fairytale

A post shared by Cardi B Source (@sheiscardi) on

I think it's safe to say that Cardi's most extravagant performance was this year's American Music Awards performance. It looked so intricate. What went into making that happen?

It was intricate. We have a wonderful team: Ronnie Stephenson, Tanisha Scott, and everyone. The whole creative production team is amazing. It's hard work. I ain't going to lie, we rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed. I was mad. I'm in L.A. and I can't even go nowhere. A lot of fucking hours. I know it was over some days [laughs].

Cardi B is probably going to be the biggest tour you've ever been a part of during a time when artists only earn 12 percent of the $45 billion the music industry made last year—most of it from live performances. What have you observed this year about the business of the touring DJ?

Touring DJs are in demand now because of the fact that artists have to tour to make that money. But I'll keep it a buck. I've gone to a lot of shows where the tour DJ is doing the same fucking shit to get the crowd hype. Everybody playing the same songs.

Now that touring DJs are in demand, have you been getting to that bag?

Yeah, I just checked my bank account. I'm very happy right now [laughs]. I swear, I just looked down at the phone because we can't have our phones in our hands while we're driving, and the bank app said, "You've logged out of your session." But I was looking at my account and it's very, very nice. Getting to this schmoney! You feel me? A year and some change ago, I was just getting out of jail. I ain't have nowhere to stay. I ain't have no car. I had two kids. I had to rent a room out from my homeboy. I got out with $200 to my name. Nobody gave me nothing. I grinded for this shit. Not for the Cardi B job. I'm talking about a year later being the hottest DJ in the biggest clubs in the city. Not the little shits. I'm doing the biggest parties. If you come to Atlanta, when they tell you where to go, I'm going to be the fucking DJ. Unless I'm on the road with Bardi.

What is on Cardi B's rider?

[Laughs] She's not bougie. She doesn't have a crazy rider. She likes regular shit. You've got to understand, we still hood motherfuckers. We just getting money. So, some chicken wings, candy, and water.

No champagne or D'usse in the back?

Sis really don't drink like that. She damn sure don't do no drugs like that. She's a star. She's not going to stop. We don't have those kind of issues. I've never seen her take a drink of alcohol, number one. Number two, she don't do drugs, at all. I've never seen her do a drug. When it's showtime, it's showtime, it's focus time. She get her hair done, getting her makeup done, putting her outfit on, we get on stage, and boom. Then we're gone. Off to the next city. Then she gets back to her child and her life. She's amazing at doing that. She's juggling live performances, in-studio recording, music videos. She has several deals with different fashion houses that'll be dropping soon that I can't speak on. She has a three-month-old child and a husband who is also out there on the road. Shorty is a G.

You're the tour DJ for arguably the biggest rapper in the world. What do you—

She is the biggest rapper in the world, brother. I know what you're saying. You're covering your bases, but she's the biggest rapper in the world. She's the hottest chick in the game. There's Beyoncé, and then there's Cardi B. That's it.

But what are your expectations for this tour?

I want the world to know that she's that chick. I won't call her a bitch. When they leave that tour I want them to go, "Damn, shorty really ripped that shit. She really represented. She held it down." But she's still going to be the same person on that stage as she is off the stage. It ain't going to change. The Bronx is in her the way Atlanta is in me.


More from Keith Nelson, Jr.:

Video
From the top