Guest Star: "After A Year And A Half Of.....Jay-Z Switched It Up"
Friday, Apr 1, 2011 4:05PM
[With spring tours in full effect, Jay-Z's live band drummer Tony Royster, Jr. speaks on his experience under Hova's wings.]
I have a friend that's a great friend with Jay-Z and he does a lot of musical directing for gigs with a lot of people. He's basically well-known in the industry for that and at the time, he told me, "Jay's putting together a band and I want you to be a part of the band." I had come out, did about 25 songs and did my first gig [with him] which was the VH1 Storytellers episode. That's pretty much how we hooked up. I've known Jay for about three and a half years now.
Jay-Z is an interesting character, and definitely not what I thought after [seeing him rap] for years. Everybody is different, but when you actually get a chance to chill and vibe is something else. Jay is an amazing person and he's definitely a genius. And basically, when we worked together, Jay-Z's the type of guy that you need to build [with].
Obviously the drums are the heartbeat of the music. Rappers want to hear the bass, the bottom, the 808's and so that was a very big aspect of his band. I think we got along really well. I feel like ever since the very beginning, we gelled. And so it's been history ever since. We have a great friendship and a great relationship as well.
Jay tries to capture a different audience as well as let people know he can still rap like any other rapper. During the American Gangster album promo tour, we were dressed up [in formal attire] and showed you don't always have to have jewels and everything on. That was his [motive] behind dressing us up in suits.
After a whole year and a half of that, Jay switched it up. The last tour we did was for the Blueprint III and we just had a whole bunch of tee-shirts and the dancers had the Blueprint III logo on them so it was a lot better.
Tony Royster is an official member of Jay-Z's live band. In addition to Jay-Z, Tony has played with Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Drake, Nicki Minaj, Swizz Beatz, John Mayer, Sting, Bono (U2), T-Pain, Cold Play, Foo Fighters, T.I., Lil Wayne, Eminem and En Vogue among others. Tony's most memorable drumming moment to date is being invited to play at the 2009 Presidential Inauguration for Barack Obama with Jay-Z.
Check out some footage of Tony Royster performing below: