Nostalgia reigns supreme in the United Kingdom, with three tours from acts that enjoyed heydays in the 1990s posting big Boxscore numbers — and helping U.K. promoter SJM Concerts pull in a $42 million gross in May: Spice Girls launched their Spice World – 2019 Tour on May 24 in Dublin and grossed over $23.6 million in just four performances through May 31; Manchester, England, group Take That brought in a $13.4 million haul from eight shows; and the Gods of Rap tour — led by legendary hip-hop forebears Wu-Tang Clan, Public Enemy and De La Soul — sold over 95,000 tickets throughout the United Kingdom for a total gross of $7.6 million. The assembly of some of rap’s most influential acts was the passion project of SJM Concerts promoter Chris Wareing, who discusses how the tour package came together and why fans can’t let go of the ’90s.
Where did the idea for Gods of Rap come from?
During the summer of 2018, I was out pushing my then-newborn son in his pram while listening to a playlist of] Wu-Tang Clan, Public Enemy, De La Soul, Jurassic 5, Gang Starr and a few others. I thought, “Imagine if three or four of these acts played on the same bill.” Straight away I put artwork together, along with a first draft of the Gods of Rap logo. As soon as I saw the art, I knew I had to make this tour happen. It would be impossible to not get excited on first look. I sent the idea over to the Clan’s agent. Initially the tour was three U.K. dates, but we eventually ended up at 11 shows across Europe with the help of Cameron Kaiser from Creative Artists Agency. I copyrighted and trademarked the name, logo and likeness before any offers were sent.
How did you know there would be a market for this kind of tour?
I live hip-hop. I am an encyclopedia of the genre, so it was easy for me to spot both a void and a demand for both Gods of Rap as a tour and a brand. We have three of the most notorious groups in the world, held down by the legendary DJ Premier and backed by a fantastic production. For any fan of rap music, this is a must-see show and gives incredible value for the money. The shows have done fantastic business, and the Gods of Rap merchandise line is selling at an alarming rate, which illustrates a thirst for the brand. Gods of Rap will continue full steam ahead with Gods of Rap II and III already in the works, as well as a lot of interest in Gods of Rap as a brand.
SJM has recently promoted shows for Take That, Gods of Rap and the Spice Girls. Is it just nostalgia in the air?
In terms of Gods of Rap, these artists are still hugely relevant — they have been and will continue to shape the landscape for music. It’s edgy, it’s raw, it’s rude — it’s exactly the trend we are seeing right now. Public Enemy carry a huge political message, which I don’t think has ever been so important with the state of politics right now. It’s imperative for me to allow them to build on their legacy, rather than detract from it with subpar touring.