SOTBMusic is for the kids. So, we (read: I) decided to give more of my floor to indie artists to let them speak on their experiences. This first popped up with Brain Rapp’s “Life as an Indie Artist” piece. Since then, I’ve been evolving the premise and have asked some of my indie artist friends/acquantinces to give their testaments. Today, we’re joined by Corina Corina (Run the Blues), who has been featured on SpeedontheBeat.com before, to talk about her soundtrack for DIY touring and how RTJ has influenced her touring style and life.
I’ve toured A LOT. It’s tiring as hell. People have often ask me how I get through them and how I’m still able to have energy to perform night after night. My answer: coffee, tequila, meditation, love for the craft and Run the Jewels. I’m not joking.
Over the past five years of DIY touring, I’ve been lucky enough to be accompanied by the sounds of a pre-Run the Jewels Killer Mike and El-P (Killer Mike’s 2012 classic, R.A.P. Music) followed by three consecutive releases from the duo.
Out of necessity, my tours partners and I have often had to take on a lot more than any artist should ever have to. We book the tour, do all the driving, set up, break down, sell our own merch and everything in between. We drive all day and often sleep on floors and couches or in the car in an empty parking lot or drive through the night. The word exhausting doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Early on in my DIY touring days I would take any show that I could get. A lot of these shows have been God-awful in one way or another. Most were very sparsely attended, the sound was bad, the audience (when there was one) wasn’t the right demographic for our tour lineup, we weren’t paid enough to even cover gas and so on and so on. Aside from this all being physically and financially grueling, it has especially taxing on my ego.
Taking care of my mind and spirit has become crucial. Enter Run the Jewels.
Hardships aside, all of my touring experience, good and bad, has been character building. I’ve learned a lot about stamina and what I’m made of overall. One of the ways I’ve been able to rock a crowd every night is due to the pre-show routine I’ve developed: I spend a few minutes alone to do a warmup of vocal scales and then I sing “Golden Lady” by Stevie Wonder. Once my voice is in good shape, it’s time to get hype. I started out playing songs like “Air Wave Air Raid” (Homeboy Sandman) or “Express Yourself” (N.W.A) to get me into that necessary badass frame of mind before hitting the stage. Then I heard Killer Mike’s “Big Beast,” the El-P- produced lead single to 2012’s R.A.P. Music and I was never the same.
Anyone who’s heard the track knows how potent it is. I literally feel my chest expanding when I hear those first few lines, “Hardcore G shit, homie, I don’t play around/ain’t shit sweet bout the peach this Atlanta, clown.” It works every time.
The summer after R.A.P. Music was released, Killer Mike and his producer partner, El-P, formed their joint project, Run the Jewels. El-P was the album producer for R.A.P. music so I was more than ready for a full length collaboration between the duo. I’d already been a die-hard fan of both of theirs for years so I was beyond amped to download their first self-titled album the summer of 2013 and the two that followed in 2014 and 2016.
Amidst all the drama, stress and blows to my ego that inevitably accompany a DIY tour, I have some fond memories of taking walks alone or driving through long stretches of highway to the sounds of my favorite rap duo. In the years that followed their first release, my main tour partner, DJ HALO and I played “DDFH” every day on every tour we’ve ever been on and we still feel the same level of transformation every time we hear it.
There’s a reason the phrase “Music Heals” exists. It can literally transform a mood, alter the energy in an entire room and forever change us as humans. I cannot stress enough how important a tool music has been for me as I’ve navigated the challenging terrain of my independent music career. I am so grateful to have two ears, a set of headphones and a soundtrack that I know will never let me down.
To this day, I listen to “Big Beast” when I need a little pick me up.
I mean, it doesn’t get any more hype than hearing Michael Render shout:
“Pow, motherfucker, pow! Come up off the chain/
Pow, motherfucker, pow! One off in the brain”
Give me this and a shot of tequila and I’m ready for any stage, whether it’s an audience of 3 or 3,000.
Stream Corina Corina’s mixtape tribute to Run the Jewels for FREE: