Xtina Prince On Managing Duckwrth & His Upcoming Dates Opening For Billie Eilish

Say Oooh Oooh
Photo by Grizz Lee
– Say Oooh Oooh
Duckwrth performs at Bowery Ballroom in New York City on Sept. 19, 2021.

Duckwrth and his manager, Xtina Prince, didn’t meet in person for the first two years of their professional relationship. Instead, they conversed on the phone as Prince provided the rapper and songwriter with guidance for building his budding career.

“I feel like we didn’t really talk a lot, but when we spoke it was meaningful,” Prince told Pollstar of her early days managing Duckwrth. “I think we talked maybe once every other month, but it was always purposeful.”
Prince currently serves as Senior Director of A&R for Republic Records and Head of Operations for Imperial Music. In 2012, she had been looking for videos of The Weeknd for Republic – the label he remains signed to – and YouTube’s algorithm suggested she listen to Duckwrth’s song “Hoverboard” next. From that moment, Prince was hooked. She reached out to the rapper on Facebook, asking if he needed a manager. Duckwrth said he already had someone, but Prince still offered to help when needed.
Two years after they met on Facebook, Prince was officially Duckwrth’s manager and bought him a one-way ticket to New York City. There, he lived with Prince and her family in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood. In a time of political turmoil following the police killing of Eric Garner, Duckwrth would regularly join protests in the streets.
“Duckwrth is who Duckwrth is,” Prince said. “He’s talented – I think he’d be that without me. He’s unique – I think he’d be that without me. He’s stylish – I think he’d be that without me. He’s always thinking and he’s two, three, four, five years ahead of even his own thoughts. I think that I grounded him. I was the anchor that keeps him in one place long enough to see something through. I think that’s what it was then, and I think that’s what it still is now.”
The Falling Man
Photo by Sango Amoda / Afropunk via Getty Images
– The Falling Man
Duckwrth performs at Afropunk Atlanta on Oct. 12, 2019.
Since then, Duckwrth has released two albums, three mixtapes, two EPs, supported Anderson .Paak and Billie Eilish on tours and traveled the globe. 
He first joined Eilish – who found Duckwrth on her own and followed him on Instagram – for three dates on her “When We All Fall Asleep” tour in October 2019, appearing at her arena stops in Tulsa, Houston and Dallas, the latter of which sold out 11,995 tickets and grossed $1.2 million, according to Pollstar Boxoffice reports.

In March and April, Duckwrth will return to the stage with the superstar for 18 arena dates on her upcoming “Happier Than Ever” arena run.
“We never considered that he would ever tour with her, but we have a great booking agent named Kyle [Kernohan of ICM Partners] and he’s amazing,” Prince said. “So when Billie Eilish followed him, I told Kyle, ‘You know, it looks like there could be a relationship here. Let’s stay close to the team, keep our eye out for any opportunities where Billie could or would bring him on.’”
Duckwrth hadn’t played arenas before supporting Eilish, and Prince raved that he took to the stage like a natural. She described the audience as “a little interesting,” and explained, “It was a lot of younger girls, maybe teenagers to young adults. He’s playing his music to girls who were with their mom, right? And he’s singing songs like ‘THROWYOASSOUT’ on this stage in front of 14-year-olds. 
“So, after the first show we had to make some adjustments, just be aware that there’s young girls here with their parents. He wanted to get it as comfortable for that audience as possible without compromising his creativity.”
Duckwrth’s initial dates with Eilish were nailed down just 30 days before he hit the road. For the upcoming tour, Duckwrth has had plenty of time to prepare. 
“In his mind, this show has to be better than when he played [Las Vegas festival] Day N Vegas [in November 2021] or the last show.” Prince said of Duckwrth’s upcoming opening slot on “Happier Than Ever.” 
“Duckwrth is always trying to beat himself. So I think he will approach this like he’s playing arenas, but it will still be just as big as when he’s playing his own headline. I don’t think that he knows any other way.” 
Photo by Sango Amoda / Afropunk / Getty Images
– Duckwrth
Duckwrth performing at Afropunk Atlanta in Atlanta on Oct. 12, 2019.
One of the most exciting “Happier Than Ever” dates for Duckwrth and his team is the tour’s April 6 show at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., close to his hometown of Los Angeles. He’ll also support Eilish in major markets such as Nashville, Detroit, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, Las Vegas and San Francisco.

Ahead of kicking off his “Happier Than Ever” stint on Mar. 8 – Eilish begins the trek in New Orleans on Feb. 3 – Duckwrth was initially going to perform in Europe in late January. However, due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, he and his team opted to push the dates to December. 
“It’s important that he’s healthy,” Prince said of the postponement. “So I think I’m okay with us not playing it. He was selling out in London, he was already selling out in Amsterdam. We’ll probably bump up the rooms in the cities where he was pretty much sold out anyway.”
Following “Happier Than Ever,” Duckwrth will play several festivals, including Forecastle Festival in Louisville, Ky., and Electric Forest in Rothbury, Mich. 
His team is also setting its sights on a headline tour, which will see the rapper performing three times as many shows in 2022 as he did in 2021. Last September, Duckwrth headed out on a brief headline tour that began at The Roxy in Los Angeles. 
The run included sold-out shows at The New Parish in Oakland, Calif., where he sold 550 tickets and grossed $11,000, and Boston’s Brighton Music Hall, where he moved 540 tickets and grossed $9,840, according to Pollstar Boxoffice reports.
“That’s so emotional for me,” Prince said of Duckwrth’s first time selling out his own headline shows, including New York’s 600-capacity Bowery Ballroom. “You know, starting his professional, commercial career as an artist in New York and being able to come back to the same city. To come back here and the love that he receives is so incredible. And the show sold out within days, which was pretty crazy.” 
Recalling their very first day together in New York, Prince noted that she wasn’t able to pick up Duckwrth from the airport. Instead, the two met at a venue where he was playing a show she had set up for him. 
“I saw him running through the crowd with his dreads flying,” Prince said. “I was telling my husband, ‘That’s the kid! That’s the kid I brought here!’ And he was just about to go on and I waved good luck. The introduction comes on and it’s this very eerie intro, he has to have a thematic and intense introduction. 
“And then all of a sudden he comes on stage and he lit that entire room up. That was the first time I ever saw him in person, and he’s been that guy ever since.”