Hold on tight. Your perception of the rap-star lifestyle is about to be shattered.
Life on the road looks glamorous and often is. But in many cases, what fans don’t realize, is that road leads back to good, old fashioned hometown hustle.
I recently had the pleasure of touring with hometown hero—and Spotify streaming hip hop sensation—Souly Had and his collective, Entrèband. Souly recently signed a deal with major label Island Records and has millions of streams to his name as well as an incredibly large and supportive organic fan base. The anticipation for this tour had me on the edge of my seat for weeks up until the moment we left for the first show.
We set foot in the green room at the first venue and Tomcbumpz—one of the team’s producers and a mastermind behind the chill, melodic (sometimes lo-fi) Entrèband sound—immediately sat down at the grand piano in the corner of the room and began plucking out nostalgic, jazzy melodies. He was soon joined by the unmistakably smooth, soft crooning of Souly’s voice. From there, the energy in the room grew. These young men have the talent and it was clear that this was the baseline sort of hang sesh this group of longtime friends practiced and enjoyed frequently. There was something charming and very respectable about the fact that this group (when given all the freedom in the world) chose to stay focused, creative and productive.
I am happy to say I had the privilege of being on the road with this group as a supporting artist on the tour bill (NADAGANG). Along with playing shows to sold-out crowds, I was able to play a large part behind the scenes. I work as production manager for Delirium Entertainment, owned by Ashley Tribley, who is both the brains and brawn behind this entire tour production.
Being in this position was extremely eye-opening (in more than one sense, as we got very little sleep over the course of these two weeks). I was able to see the tour through to fruition from its conception. This includes (but is not limited to) routing, booking, merchandising, overhead costs (such as travel and accommodations), marketing and promotion, driving, load in/load out, sound, contracts, settlements, rehearsals, more loading out and even less sleep.
The amount of work and hours involved in this type of endeavor are not for the faint of heart, or for anyone who is not entirely committed to the idea that you simply need to do what needs to get done, no matter the time of day/night or how long of a drive you have ahead of you. The experience and benefits of touring are like no other and I would not trade it for the world.
When you step onstage to a room packed full of hundreds of people who are anxiously awaiting one of their favorite artists and have committed themselves to the idea of having a great night full of fun and freeing musical entertainment, the support is palpable. Any nerves or jitters disappear and you know you have a job to do, so you do it—just like the rest of your duties on tour.
For this 30 minutes, you’re not driving or hauling boxes of merch, or worrying about where you’re going to sleep when a hotel confirmation falls through. It’s just you with your friends on stage and hundreds of people waiting to share with you the culmination of your hard work. It’s beautiful, surreal and over too quickly. Good thing you get to do it again tomorrow. That is, until the tour is over…
The feeling when you get home from reaping the spoils of road life (other than sleep deprivation and general exhaustion) is a combination of contentment and restlessness. And the feeling when you get home from tour to your minimum wage job in a field that has less than nothing to do with music is…let’s say, great motivation.
There is something almost intrinsic I have noticed in many music industry professionals. It is like a magnetic pull we feel to bring our ideas to life. The notion of loving something so much that you grind for it morning to night with little to no reward other than the fulfillment of having created what you personally consider to be great art or music, and furthermore pursuing this dream full-time is, well, kind of crazy. But I am here to tell you that the hustle pays off. And once it does, you’d better keep hustling.
Being lucky enough to have had a hand in the grunt work of touring with a major label artist, as well as sharing in the prosperity of the live shows and being able to perform original music for the type of crowds I have been working towards all my life, has given me new energy. It has reinforced the idea that with hard work, dedication, research, kindness, and a good team, anything is possible. It has also forced me to reconsider perspective and relativity as concepts.
I want my experience on this tour to inspire you to do the things that you’ve been thinking about doing but putting off. If you want something, especially something crazy, you’ve got to take it into your hands to make it happen. Every accomplishment, no matter how large or small, should fuel that fire.
Brian Chiappinelli is an independent sound engineer and producer, rapper (B Chiaps) and a talent buyer with Delirium Entertainment. Check out Brian’s work on Soundcloud.