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When one of your biggest hit records talks about “taking a bottle to the head” – it’s natural to assume that your band is accustomed to partaking in alcoholic beverages before, after… heck, even during performances. But Lil Wayne’s “I Am Still Music” tour isn’t your typical hip hop show. Due to Wayne’s probation, no alcohol is allowed backstage.

The fellas from Far East Movement are finding ways to get by.

“We just drive far away, make sure we’re far away from the tour, and do what we gotta do,” said emcee and group spokesman-by-committee Kev Nish. “The atmosphere (on tour) has been real positive. All the artists bring it like crazy… I mean, you can’t even tell the difference.”

Kev, real name Kevin Nishimura, initially didn’t understand where I was going with my inquiry on the group’s drinking habits while on tour. Once he realized, he backtracked a little from the “before, after, during” talk.

“I was just kidding,” Nish joked. “Water is… the natural life choice drink.”

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Speaking of choices, FM also chatted about a decision the group made before releasing the album Free Wired. Bruno Mars helped write and produce the hit single, “Rocketeer,” but at the time was not a known artist. When the demo version of the song leaked after Mars became a superstar, some questioned the need to grab OneRepublic front man Ryan Tedder for the hook in the first place. But Kev Nish revealed that it was a joint-decision between Far East Movement and Mars to enlist Tedder’s services.

“We envisioned an alternative rock hook,” said Kev of the song. “We were listening to OneRepublic ‘Apologize,’ and thinking, ‘Let’s go with Ryan.’”

“Rocketeer” flew up the charts across the globe, cracking the Top 10 in a number of countries, including the U.S.

Lil Wayne is back on the road this summer, and Keri Hilson is one of his four supporting acts on the “I Am Still Music” tour. Sure, the two artists know each other; Weezy even had a verse on Hilson’s single, “Turnin’ Me On.” But that doesn’t mean the two are hanging out every day, or even saying hello… or for that matter, even seeing each other.

“Fifth show and I haven’t seen him yet,” Hilson revealed in her dressing room last week at Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain. The interview aired Monday evening on “The Ralphie Radio Show.” “We are in our own world, preparing for every show, every day.”

Hilson did catch Wayne’s set a couple nights prior, and was nothing but complimentary towards the Young Money emcee.

“He has a lot of fun on stage,” Hilson observed. “That’s the one thing you can’t take away from Wayne, you will have fun watching him. He’s just such a character.”

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“Miss Keri Baby” isn’t ruling out a collaboration between the two yet. Still early in the trek, Hilson simply said “it could happen.”

The singer/songwriter also paid props to another artist that she’s collaborated with: Ester Dean. Like Hilson, Dean both pens and sings songs. Her 2009 hit “Drop It Low” helped to establish the latter. Since, Dean has written big hits for Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, and Katy Perry. She also wrote Hilson’s next single, “Lose Control.”

“I love the video, too,” Hilson added. “It’s one of my favorite videos I’ve ever done.”

The song features Nelly and is on Keri’s latest album, No Boys Allowed.


– You know it’s hot when: even people from the south and west are complaining of the heat. It was a scorcher up on Montage Mountain Tuesday. If I had a dollar for every time I was asked, “Is it always this hot in Pennsylvania?” I could’ve bought a couple rounds of drinks at the beer stand.

– The mood backstage was very mellow and low key in the afternoon and early evening. Despite requests from Lil Wayne’s management that all backstage interviews complete by 6 pm, I found myself leaving Keri Hilson’s dressing room almost at 6:30. Hilson is not just a perfectionist with her music, but with her look as well – working with her makeup artist and manager to ensure that she looked pristine and that the lighting and scenery in her small dressing room was perfect. She did and it was, and you’ll be able to see it all soon on my blog.

– Staff backstage at Montage Mountain commented that security was just as tight as Wayne’s last visit in 2009. If you recall, some workers told me back then that in their 10 plus years at the venue, they had never seen such a strong security detail.

– The Far East Movement was a little late to my interview backstage, and I suppose I could excuse them: I can’t tell you how many times I misjudged the length of that drive from Wilkes-Barre to Moosic. FEM stayed at The Woodlands Monday and Tuesday evening, and took full advantages of some of the various amenities, including the Club Havana Deck Bar and the pool. Post-show on Tuesday, two of the “Like a G6” rappers could even be spotted jogging around the resort.

– FEM wasn’t the only group of artists there… yes, Lil Wayne and the rest of Young Money spent their time in Northeastern PA inside The Woodlands. Wayne checked in Monday evening, and was spotted Tuesday in The Woods large parking lot working on his skateboarding skills. After the show, Weezy retreated to his room where he allegedly worked on music until the wee hours of the morning. If you’ve seen “The Carter” documentary then you know that in addition to mobile recording equipment on his tour bus, Weezy can literally set-up a studio in the middle of his hotel room and spit lines. I guess if we hear any reference to Northeastern PA or he name-checks the Kornfeld’s on Tha Carter IV, we’ll have our confirmation.

– Special thanks to Live Nation for once again bringing Lil Wayne to Northeastern PA. Even I was a bit taken aback that the company was going to take another chance on Weezy in this market, primarily due to the negative, mostly unfair, and almost completely biased coverage his show received from “news outlets” and “know-it-alls” in 2009. However thanks to the area’s support and the help of a few, select media outlets (Who else offered $9.71 lawn seats?!), it seems as if this was once again another successful hip hop concert in NEPA, with hopefully more to come.