The most lucrative hip-hop trek headlined by a womale also served as the coronation of Nicki Minaj as hip-hop’s newest queen. What made The Pinkprint Tour such a gloriously over-the-optimal affair was its seamless balance of dramatic Broadway-choose theater, silly high jinks and a flex of creative ferocity. One minute Minaj was in a babsence lace dress covering her eyes while mourning the loss of a turbulent union during “The Crying Video Game.” The next, she was backing up her memorable appearance on Kanye West’s “Monster” as the the majority of wig-snatching guest verse of that decade. And the Barbz went wild.
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Gross: $22 million from 38 shows
Kendrick Lamar percreates in the time of the Festival d’ete de Quebec on Friday, July 7, 2017, in Quebec City, Canada.
19. The Damn. Tour (2017-18)
Kendrick Lamar, featuring Travis Scott, DRAM and also YG
When you have actually dropped two of the most critically lauded albums of your era in Good Kid, M.A.A.D City (2012) and To Pimp a Butterfly (2015), there’s currently an embarrassment of wealth to pull from for any live establishing. But Kendrick Lamar taken that to live approximately his bold “best rapper alive” proclamation he additionally needed populist anthems to turn on the masses. The Damn. album and people tour presented just that, as he led his followers each night in an elevating rap-along. It kicked off through a martial arts film, a cheeky nod to Lamar’s Kung Fu Kenny alter ego, prior to launching into the chest-beating “DNA.”
Gross: More than $62.7 million from 62 shows
Drake and Future performing on phase during The Summer Sixteen Tour at AmericanAirlines Arena on Aug. 30, 2016 in Miami.
18. Summer Sixteen Tour (2016)
Drake and also Future
This mammoth, co-headlining tour was a no-brainer: Drake, the hit-making heartthrob, Canada’s clap-back native boy and also part-time goofy Toronto Raptors superfan. And Future, the self-anointed Atlanta Trap King, gleeful nihilist and also producer, whose slapping, codeine-addled bars made him a controversial number on and off record. The magic of this yin/yang pairing shined brightest as soon as they teamed as much as percreate such tracks as “Jumpman” and “Big Rings” off their industry-shaking 2015 mixtape What a Time to Be Alive. When the smoke settled, Drake and also Future walked ameans through the highest-earning hip-hop tour of all time.
Gross: $84.3 million from 54 shows
From left to appropriate, Sandra ‘Pepa’ Denton, DJ Spinderella and also Cheryl ‘Salt’ James perform on stage.
17. Salt-N-Pepa Tour (1988)
Featuring Keith Sweat, Heavy D & the Boyz, EU, Johnny Kemp, Full Force, Kid ’n Play and also Rob Base
It may seem preposterous in this outspoken, girl-power age of Cardi B, Lizzo, Megan Thee Stallion, Kash Doll, Young M.A, Tierra Whack and City Girls, but ago in the beforehand ’80s, the thought of a “female” rhyme group anchoring a huge tour appeared out of reach. That was before the 1986 deyet of Salt-N-Pepa, the pioneering group who’s racked up a plethora of groundbreaking moments and marketed even more than 15 million albums. The first female rap act to go platinum (Hot, Cool & Vicious) and also score a Top 20 hit on the Billboard 200 (“Push It”), Salt-N-Pepa led a diverse, arena-hopping showcase that offered the middle finger to any kind of misogynistic notions. And Salt, Pepa and DJ Spinderella continue to be road warriors. They’re presently on New Kids on the Block’s arena-packing Mixtape Tour.
Encore: Opening-act standouts Heavy D & the Boyz would co-headline their very own tour the adhering to year off the platinum success of their 1989 masteritem Big Tyme.
16. Glow in the Dark Tour (2008)
Kanye West, featuring Rihanna, N.E.R.D, Nas, Lupe Fiasco and Santigold
Yes, Kanye West has actually had even more ambitious showings (2013-14’s button-pushing Yeezus Tour) and more aesthetically adventurous gigs (the 2016 Saint Pablo Tour featured a floating phase, which hovered over the audience). But never has actually the Chicago-born visionary sounded so hungry, concentrated and also optimistic than he did on his first big solo excursion, the Glow in the Dark Tour.
Before the Kardashian reality-display level freak-outs and also MAGA hat obsessing, West was simply a kid who wanted to share his spacey sci-fi dreamscape via the public, complete via a talking computerized spaceship named Jane. Even the rotating opening acts — topped off by the coolest pop star on the world, Rihanna — were ridiculously talented.
Gross: $30.8 million from 49 shows
15. I Am Music Tour (2008-09)
Lil Wayne, featuring T-Pain and also Keyshia Cole
Between 2002 and 2007, Young Money general Lil Wayne was hip-hop’s hardest-functioning pressure of nature, releasing an astounding 16 mixtapes. Then Weezy broke from the fill through the massively effective I Am Music Tour. The mass of Lil Wayne’s 90-minute collection was moved by his career-defining 2008 album Tha Carter III, which by the show’s second leg had currently offered 2 million copies. By the moment T-Pain joined the New Orleans spitter for a playful fight of the featured acts, Lil Wayne’s takeover was finish.
Gross: $42 million from 78 shows
MC Hammer, performing on stage in 1990, had a big entourage for his Hammer Don’t Hurt ’Em Tour.
14. Hammer Don’t Hurt ’Em Tour (1990-91)
MC Hammer, featuring En Vogue and Vanilla Ice
With 15 background dancers, 12 singers, seven musicians, two DJs, eight defense males, three valets and also a personal Boeing 727 airplane, MC Hammer’s human being tour was eye-popping. Rap fans had never watched anything of the magnitude of the Hammer Don’t Hurt ’Em stadium gigs, which recalled Parliament-Funkadelic’s army-dimension traveling heyday in the 1970s.
Each night the Oakland also, California, dancing machine, born Stanley Burrell, left pools of sweat onphase as if he was the second coming of James Brvery own. If the sight of more than 30 folks onstage doing the Running Man, with MC Hammer breaking right into his signature typewriter dance during “U Can’t Touch This,” didn’t make you get up, you must have actually checked your pulse.
Gross: $26.3 million from 138 shows
13. Things Fall Apart! Tour (1999)
Each gig was a revelation. This was no surprise given that Philadelphia hip-hop cumulative The Roots, formed by longtime friends drummer Questlove and lead lyricist Babsence Thought, had a reputation for being unpredictable. Still, it’s ironic that a team known for being the ultimate road warriors — they were well-known for touring 45 weeks a year before ending up being the residence band also on The Tonight Sjust how Starring Jimmy Fallon in 2014 — is stood for on this list by among their shortest tours.
But the brilliant Things Fall Apart club and hall sprint, which took area throughout March 1999, showed to be an epic blitz fueled by the band’s the majority of commercially lauded product to day, Questlove’s steady percussive heart and also the inhumale breath regulate of Babsence Thought.
Encore: Neo spirit diva Jill Scott, that co-composed The Roots’ breakout single “You Got Me,” gave fans an early taste of her artistry as she joined the band onphase for some significant vocal workouts.
12. House of Blues’ Smokin’ Grooves Tour (1996)
The Fugees, Cypress Hill, A Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes, Ziggy Marley and Spearhead
While gangsta rap was topping the charts, the hip-hop industry challenged a bleak situation on the touring front. Concert promoters were scared to book “urban” acts in big venues. Go into the House of Blues’ Kevin Morrow and also Cara Lewis, the booking agent who completed mythic status once she received a shout-out on Eric B. & Rakim’s 1987 anthem “Passist in Full.” The pair envisioned a Lollapalooza-choose tour hefty on hip-hop and also good vibes. The first ’96 incarnation came out of the gate through Haitian-Amerideserve to rap trio The Fugees, multiplatinum weed ambassadors Cypress Hill, A Tribe Called Quest and also Busta Rhymes.
Encore: The series, which has actually additionally featured Outkast, The Roots, Lauryn Hill, Gang Starr, The Pharcyde, Foxy Brown and Public Enemy, is attributed via opening the door for a return to more straight-ahead hip-hop tours led by Jay-Z, DMX and Dr. Dre.
Kanye West (left) and also Jay-Z (right) perform in concert in the time of the Watch The Throne Tour, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011, in East Rutherford, N.J.
11. Watch the Throne Tour (2011-12)
Jay-Z and also Kanye West
In much better times, Jay-Z and also Kanye West displayed lofty friendship goals we could all aspire to, via their bromance popping on the platinum album Watch the Throne. Before their much-publicized fallout, Jay-Z and also West took their act on the road for the mommy of all double-bill spectacles.
Two of hip-hop’s greatest traded classics such as the ominous “Wright here I’m From” (Jay-Z) and soaring “Jesus Walks” (West) from sepaprice stages on opposite sides of the venue. Those lucky enough to capture the tour have the right to still recall the dream tag team launching right into their encore of “N—as in Paris” amid roars from thousands of revelers.
Gross: $75.6 million from 63 shows
10. The Miseducation Tour (1999)
Lauryn Hill, featuring Outkast
In 1998, Lauryn Hill wasn’t simply the best woguy emcee or the ideal emcee alive and also kicking. The previous standout Fugees member was briefly the voice of her generation as she rode the multiplatinum, multi-Grammy success of her solo debut The Miseducation and learning of Lauryn Hill. By February 1999, it was time to take the present on the road. Hill and also her 10-piece band also went beyond the hype, particularly when they tore via a blistering take of the heartbreaking “Ex-Factor.”
Encore: Outkast (Atlantans Andre 3000 and also Big Boi) rocked the house backed by some conspicuous props, consisting of two front grilles of a Cadillac and also a throwback Ford truck, kicked off their very own headlining Stanklove theater tour in beforehand 2001.
9. No Way Out Tour (1997-98)
Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, Lil’ Kim, Ma$e, Busta Rhymes, Foxy Brvery own, 112, The Lox, Usher, Kid Capri, Lil’ Cease and also Jay-Z
The Los Angeles Times headline spoke volumes: “Combs to Headline Rare Rap Tour.” Combs, of course, is Sean “Diddy” Combs, the music, fashion, tv and also liquor mogul that Forbes approximates currently has actually a net worth of $820 million. But earlier then, the hustler previously known as Puff Daddy was struggling to store his Bad Boy Records afloat after the March 9, 1997, murder of Brooklyn, New York, rhyme king The Notorious B.I.G.
But out of unspeakable tragedy rose Combs’ chart-dominating No Way Out album and an emotional all-star tour. Regardless of suggestions that massive rap shows were also a lot of a financial gamble, Puffy rallied the Bad Boy troops and a couple of cshed friends and proved the naysayers wrong. The No Way Out Tour was both a cathartic exercise and a joyous celebration of life. “It’s All About the Benjamins” shook the structure of eincredibly building as Combs, The Lox and a show-stealing Lil’ Kim made monetary excess look regal. And the heartfelt Biggie tribute “I’ll Be Missing You,” which was performed live at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards, had actually audiences in tears.
Gross: $16 million
Rap stars, from left, Redman, foreground, DMX, Method Man and also Jay-Z join hold DJ Clue, background left, in a photo session on Jan. 26, 1999, in New York, after announcing their 40-city Hard Knock Life Tour start Feb. 27, in Charlotte, N.C.
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
8. Hard Knock Life Tour (1999)
Jay-Z, featuring DMX, Redguy and Method Man
Jay-Z stands now as hip-hop’s a lot of bankable live attract. In 2017, the newly minted billionaire’s 4:44 Live Nation manufacturing pulled in $44.7 million, ending up being America’s all-time highest-grossing solo rap jaunt. It’s a lengthy way from the days of Jay-Z lumbering via performances in a bulletproof vest as soon as he was last off the bench on Puff Daddy’s No Way Out Tour.
Sudepend the seeds of Jay-Z’s development as a concert staple were initially planted on his Hard Knock Life Tour, which was recorded in the 2000 film Backstage. This was a confident, full-throated Shawn Carter, and he would need eexceptionally ounce of charisma, with Ruff Ryders lead dog DMX enrapturing fans as if he were a Baptist preacher at a tent renewal and the duo of Redmale and Method Man rapping and swinging over crowds from ropes attached to moving cranes. What a gig.
Gross: $18 million
Flavor Flav (left) and also Chuck D (right) of the rap group Public Enemy perform onstage in New York in August 1988.
7. Bring the Noise Tour (1988)
Public Enemy and also Ice-T, featuring Eazy-E & N.W.A. and EPMD
Tbelow has always been a managed chaos to a Public Enemy live display. Lead orator Chuck D jolted the crowd with a ferocity over the elaborate, combustible production of the Bomb Squad while clock-rocking Flavor Flav, the prototypical hype man, jumped and also zigzagged throughout the stage.
DJ Terminator X reduced documents favor a cyborg and never smiled. And Professor Griff and also the S1Ws exuded an intimidating, paraarmy presence. Armed with their 1988 watershed babsence nationalist job-related, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, an album many music historians think about to be the pinnacle hip-hop statement, Public Enemy spearheaded arguably the many amazing rap tour ever before conceived.
Encore: Alengthy for the wild ride was the godfather of West Coast rap, Ice-T, that was putting on the remainder of the country to Los Angeles’ violent Crips and Bloods gang battles through the too-genuine “Colors.” N.W.A. was just around to set the civilization on fire via their opus Straight Outta Compton. Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren and DJ Yella unleamelted a profanity-laced declaration of street expertise that was instantly slapped through parental advisory sticker labels. And Erick and Parrish were making dollars via their unstable and raw EPMD joint Strictly Firm.
6. Nitro World Tour (1989-90)
LL Cool J, featuring Public Enemy, Eazy E & N.W.A., Big Daddy Kane, Too $hort, EPMD, Slick Rick, De La Soul and also Special Ed
But not also LL Cool J was prepared for the monster that was N.W.A. The self-proasserted World’s Most Dangerous Group totally hijacked the spotlight once N.W.A. was warned by officials not to percreate their controversial track “F— the Police” at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena. A minute into the song, cops stormed the phase and shut down Eazy-E and also crew’s volatile collection, a wild scene that was later on re-produced in the 2015 N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton.
Encore: A few months before the Detroit gig, N.W.A. was booed during a Run-DMC show at New York’s Apollo Theater. “We all had watched Showtime at the Apollo, so we all kbrand-new if it went bad what was gonna happen,” Ice Cube described on the Complex story series What Had Happened Was … “We hit the stage, and as soon as they saw the Jheri curls, all you heard was ‘Boo!’ I suppose, prior to we even gained a line out, they was booin’. I guess they just wasn’t feeling the Jheri curls.”
Rappers Christopher “Kid” Reid and also Christopher “Play” Nolan of Kid ‘n Play perform onphase throughout “The World’s Greatest Rap Show Ever” on Jan. 3, 1992 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
5. The World’s Greatest Rap Show Ever (1991-92)
Public Enemy, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Geto Boys, Kid ’n Play, Naughty by Nature, A Tribe Called Quest, Leaders of the New School and Oaktown’s 3.5.7.
Props to the promoter that put together this awesome arsenal of hip-hop firepower for a tour that at least aimed to live approximately its tagline. What stands out the the majority of was the beforehand acknowledgment of rap’s reach past the East and also West coasts. The definition of including Houston’s Geto Boys, for circumstances, cannot be overstated.
Scarchallenge, Willie D and Bushwick Bill carried the flag for Southern hip-hop, winning over doubtful concertgoers via their raw disarea of ’hood paranoia, “Mind Playing Tricks on Me,” which had come to be a favorite on Yo! MTV Raps. Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince confirmed they might still rock the residence via PG-rated material. (It helped that Will Smith had simply begun the initially seaboy of NBC’s The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.) Queen Latifah busted through the testosterone with the empowering “Ladies First.” And Naughty by Nature frequently knocked out the most crowd-pleasing collection of the night through their promiscuous anthem “O.P.P.”
Encore: The World’s Greatest Rap Sjust how Ever made its Jan. 3, 1992, soptimal at New York’s Madichild Square Garden less than a week after nine world were fatally cruburned at a hip-hop charity basketball game at City College of New York. Before Public Enemy’s powerful message of black self-determination, Heavy D, an organizer of the doomed occasion, made a plea for unity. Fans were definitely listening. The gig was a resounding, tranquil triumph.
LL Cool J performs at the Genesis Center in Gary, Indiana in December 1987.
Raymond Boyd/Getty Images
4. Def Jam Tour (1987)
LL Cool J, Whodini, Eric B. & Rakim, Doug E. Fresh and also the Get Fresh Crew, and also Public Enemy
From 1986 to 1992, New York’s Def Jam Records was the premier hip-hop label. Its roster of artists, which consisted of Public Enemy, the Beastie Boys, EPMD and Slick Rick, was unrivaled in array and also social supremacy. So once it came time for partners Russell Simmons and also Rick Rubin to spread the Def Jam gospel on its initially worldwide tour, the imprint’s best star, LL Cool J, was liked to lead the means. And he didn’t disapallude.
James Todd Smith strutted out of a giant neon boombox sporting a Kangol hat, dookie rope gold chain and also Adidas jacket. Of course, that jacket would shortly be thrown to the floor as a shirtless Ladies Love Cool James tore through his ’85 single “Rock the Bells” as if it were the last song he would obtain to perform.
For many kind of overseas, their initially taste of Amerideserve to rap additionally had DJ Eric B. & Rakim, that were killing the roads with their 1987 masterpiece Paid In Full. Ala lot of overnight in Germany, France, Norway and also the Netherlands, hip-hop came to be the brand-new religion.
Encore: This was the first correct human being tour for Public Enemy, that had simply dropped their 12-inch single “Rebel Without a Pausage.” Although they were the opening act, Chuck D and also his posse stole the show, developing their standing as international behemoths. The now-legendary show at London’s Hammersmith Odeon can be heard throughout It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.
The Up In Smoke Tour in 2000 was a dream team bill, headed by producer Dr. Dre and featuring Eminem, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg and even more.
Photograph by Ken Hively/Los Angeles Times by means of Getty Images
3. Up In Smoke (2000)
Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Eminem, Tha Dogg Pound, Warren G and Nate Dogg, and Xzibit
The multimillion-dollar phase architecture put the concert industry on notification that not just can rap mirrors acquire the lavish production worths of the finest rock reflects, they could surpass them. It was also an emphatic statement that the greatly West Coast rap dignitaries knew how to throw a party. And there still isn’t an additional hip-hop song that matches the first 20 secs of Dre’s “Next off Episode” in concert.
Gross: $22.2 million from 44 shows
2. Raising Hell Tour (1986)
Run-DMC, featuring LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys and also Whodini
There’s a reason Run-DMC is hailed as the greatest live hip-hop act of its era. They construed that less is constantly more. Since of their stripped-dvery own beats and rhymes, the team enhanced the genius of every element of their concert presentation as much as 11. Jam Master Jay’s scratching was even more thunderous than the other DJs on the 1s and 2s. Run’s pay-me phase existence commanded respect. And D had actually the throat-grabbing voice of God. They wore Godfather hats, black jeans and shoelace-much less Adidas sneakers. The Hollis, Queens, crew was the personification of cool.Related Stories
LL Cool J was simply 18 during the Raising Hell Tour, however he was coming after Run-DMC’s crown eincredibly night. The hotel-wrecking Beastie Boys co-piloted rap’s bum-rush right into Center America, scaring parents wherever they landed. And Whodini brilliantly straddled the line in between electro funkateers and also around-the-method dudes representing BK to the fullest.
As “Walk This Way,” Run-DMC’s genre-shifting Aerosmith teamwork, exploded on the pop charts, vaulting the Raising Hell album to 3 million copies sold (the initially hip-hop album to go triple platinum), ticket sales adhered to. The 45-city tour affirmed hip-hop’s social takeover.
Encore: The photo of Joseph Simmons commanding 20,000-plus fans to host up their sneakers throughout a performance of “My Adidas” at a New York show is still a suractual sight.
1. Fresh Fest (1984)
Kurtis Blow, Run-DMC, Whodini, The Fat Boys, Newcleus & the Dynamic Breakers, New York City Breakers, Turbo and Ozone
Ricky Walker had an idea: The concert promoter wanted to put together the initially nationwide rap music and break-dancing tour. In 1984, hip-hop had actually relocated on from its underground beginnings in the Bronx. Run-DMC had actually simply dropped their self-titled dehowever, and their “Rock Box” came to be the first rap video to got play on MTV. Breakin’, the first break dancing movie to hit the massive display screen, pulled in nearly $40 million at package office on a minuscule $1.2 million budacquire. Walker witnessed the future.
He dubbed New York impresario Simmons to tap some of his Rush Productions talent, which included heartthrob Brooklyn trio Whodini, rap’s initially solo superstar Kurtis Blow, the comedic Fat Boys and also, of course, the hottest hip-hop act in the nation, Run-DMC. But as soon as it came time to promote the initially present, billed as the Swatch Watch NYC Fresh Fest Festival, in Greensboro, North Carolina, Walker was laughed out of the room by a radio ad male.
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Rap was still viewed by many kind of record sector power brokers as a passing fad. In a 1985 interview through Billboard magazine, Walker redubbed the salesperboy pleading via him. “You’re a friend of mine,” he sassist. “Can’t I talk you out of doing this show?”
Walker’s instincts, yet, verified to be dead-on. Fresh Fest relocated 7,500 tickets in four hours. The tour, which also featured some of the best street dancers on the world, such as Breakin’ stars Boogaloo Shrimp and also Shabba Doo, and the synth funk-rap team Newcleus, not only did bdanger company at mid-level venues however also offered out 20,000-seat arenas in Chicback and also Philadelphia. Like the pioneering rock ‘n’ roll mirrors of the ’50s conceived by Cleveland also radio DJ Alan Freed, the Fresh Fest showed that rap might be a significant and also profitable art create. The remainder is hip-hop history.