For some artists, the tour bus is a place to get away from the music,
to relax and just let it all rush by for a few hours.
To DJ Clue, it's the perfect chance to channel the music into something lasting: In this case, he's turned the "Hard Knock Life" tour bus into a studio for his next LP, The Professional on Tour.
"These are some of the hottest joints right now. Everyone on the tour is in their prime," said DJ Clue, who has already completed two songs for the album, which he hopes to release in August.
Working with tourmates Jay-Z, DMX, Redman and Method Man, DJ Clue and the hip-hop crew aren't wasting downtime as they roll from town to town. Fitting in a few hours before shows and on the bus between venues, the blockbuster tour's house DJ -- DJ Clue -- is trying to capture the atmosphere and energy of the performers on a portable multi-track recording studio.
The 25-year-old mix-tape producer, radio personality and club DJ from New York said Wednesday he is producing the tracks right on the tour bus. The The Professional on Tour album will feature all the rappers on the outing along with such guests as Busta Rhymes, the Lox and Beanie Siegel.
The planned 14-track collection will follow up DJ Clue's 1998 debut, The Professional, which featured such high-profile rappers as Erick Sermon, Keith Murray, Foxy Brown, Mase, Canibus, Big Punisher and Noreaga, along with Redman and DMX.
Clue, who refused to give his real name, said he and his partner Duro have completed an untitled solo track from Beanie Siegel -- a Philadelphia rapper signed to Jay-Z's Roc-a-Fella Records -- and a track called "The Starting Five" that spotlights Jay-Z, DMX, Siegel and the Lox, a trio from DMX's hometown, Yonkers, N.Y.
"We come up with concepts as we go," Clue said. "As we go from city to city, we just laying it down."
Clue said he is trying to capture the flavor of the "Hard Knock Life" tour, a major rap outing that hits Rochester, N.Y., Wednesday (March 17) and Providence, R.I., Thursday (March 18).
He described his role on the tour as keeping the energy level high between the rappers' sets and ensuring the shows don't have any down moments. He changes his selection of songs and remixes to suit the crowds' tastes, he said.
At the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, N.J., March 3, Clue received some of the night's loudest cheers for his turntable selections, which included songs from Silkk the Shocker, Puff Daddy and the late Notorious B.I.G.
The diminutive DJ is highly regarded in the New York hip-hop community for his underground mix tapes, which feature unsigned hip-hop artists, as well as for his two-hour weekly radio show on WQHT-FM. Damon Dash, chief executive officer of Roc-a-Fella Records, said in January that Clue's tapes have helped a number of rappers, Jay-Z included, earn recording deals.
"If you was on a Clue tape, you was on," Dash said.
The "Hard Knock Life" tour, scheduled to continue through May 2, is
co-headlined by Jay-Z and DMX. Jay-Z's Grammy-winning Vol. 2 ... Hard Knock Life (1998) features "Money Ain't a Thang" and "Hard Knock Life" (RealAudio excerpt); DMX's hits include "Fuckin' Wit' D" and
"Bring Your Whole Crew" (RealAudio excerpt).
Clue said he sees the tour as a precursor to an era filled with hip-hop arena tours.
"It's hot," he said. "It's definitely an experience."