It's been two years since one of the most inventive tour concepts in rap music ended. The tour embodied how tech could be used to maximise fan engagement before and during a concert on a multi-date tour. This is a look back at a review of its success on the final night.
On a weekend where most concerts would have been overshadowed by Outkast's ATLast! Reunion extravaganza in Atlanta, the grand closing of the Drake Vs Lil Wayne Tour in Houston was another significant occasion for Hip-Hop for different reasons.
The tour theme was modelled on classic video game; Street-Fighter signifying friendly one-on-one performance combat between the Young Money duo as is the nature of the platform game. Well, the theme was definitely a hit with the fans. Some may say the 17-17 draw result was convenient wrap however, the real winners (apart from the artists) were the fans in attendance. In terms of audience engagement the concept generated what could only considered to be a 'perfect!' outcome as the game would describe. In addition to seeing the re-ignition of the fire in the belly within Lil Wayne in a performance setting. As a testament to its success, the tour drew comparisons with what are generally considered as modern hip-hop's grandest of tours; 'Glow In The Dark' Tour (2008) and even Watch The Throne (2011-12). Some went as far as to say it even surpassed the Throne.
But what I want to touch on is if we can we learn anything from the tour itself? and if indeed this use of tech will have a lasting impact on the culture of live music like some of the great tours mentioned.
In terms marketing, the concept was cute to say the least and came out of the blue for many which added to the sense of anticipation. Many have said if there is one thing that Lil Tunechi has been missing in recent years it would be the lack creative concepts especially relating to his musical content. Nevertheless, the public reconnection between Drake, a force Wayne unleashed under the Young Money banner several Billboard Hot 100 hits ago. However, maybe I'm doing Lil Wayne and his team a de-service. It is indeed he who has cultivated a young fanbase off the back of his clothing line Trukfit, and the skateboard and gaming culture, a demographic who would salivate at any concept involving the iconic gaming platform. We already know young Aubrey has an obsession with video games mainly the soccer game 'FIFA' for which he is an ambassador so for him it's a mere extension of his Dhalsim-like reach.
Artists have had to diversify their brand in order to reach a broader audience so tying in a concept from a multi-billion dollar industry makes perfect sense for both parties and who knows the potential possibilities in terms of an actual video game.
The audience engagement the tour generated was very special. The Young Money team announced the tour in together with the release of a free app including a visual of Drake himself explaining how the app would be used in conjunction with the series of concerts. The tap-tap power-up method is something so basic anyone from a skater kid in the Bay Area to Drake's granny could do. The idea of simply tapping your choice for the artist who performed the best on the night or who starts the show encourages that competitive nature of Hip-Hop that will always be craved. The rotation of the two artists to and from the stage further enhanced the experience of rounds, in an attempt to deliver decisive 'Hadoken!' knock-out blow similar to that of the game itself.
This kind of engagement places the fans at the centre of the experience on the night; an experience that every fan desires. While there is a competitive spirit the atmosphere remains friendly between the rappers and never overflows to prideful posturing due to the mutual respect for one another.
We haven't even mentioned the social interactions the concerts generated. It only served to magnify the status of the events and in turn drive up sales of the arena tour.
In a time where the fan seeks to have the ultimate intimate experience with their favourite artist this tour concept encapsulates that feeling. The attempt at a creative idea should be saluted in the hope that it stimulates the minds of other artists and tour planners. You may point to the budget of the respective artists as a significant factor however the creative adjusts to its current state so even at a small scale a break from the normal formulaic performance will generate at the very least an interest from a collective of fans that will appreciate the attempt.
To summarise, the tour concept and format suited the social climate that currently dictates fan behaviour. It provides brand recognition which immediately captured the fans attention. Social interaction, and the continuous awareness the conversation brings. And a competitive conclusion after each show that provided another talking point making the entire experience more memorable for the fans.