Calboy is a rapper by trade, but a gamer at heart. When it comes to the intersection of gaming and music, the Chicago native fits in almost too perfectly. He was even featured in Grand Theft Auto V on Pop Smoke’s “100K On A Coupe,” possibly the only game which he admits he’s not the best at.
The 21-year-old exploded onto the rap scene with his breakout single “Envy Me,” with the official music video currently hailing over 184 million views and counting. He soon followed it up with his EP, gaining the attention of Meek Mill and his Dreamchasers imprint — one of his most fire collaborations to date includes “Chariot” featuring Meek, Lil Durk, and Young Thug.
Growing up on the South Side of Chicago comes with its own battles, and Calboy uses music as his outlet for the pain he’s endured. Currently signed to Polo Grounds Music and RCA Records, each release is injected with emotion and feeling, as he raps and sings about real-life experiences and changing his life for the better. Fast forward to 2020, he released his Long Live the Kings EP spearheaded by lead single “Barbarian” featuring Lil Tjay.
But in his downtime, Calboy plays video games. In fact, he has an entire room in his house in Atlanta dedicated to his favorite games, which includes a whole Mortal Kombat arcade machine, a Nintendo GameCube, and endless throwbacks he played as a kid.
Recently, we caught up with Calboy via Zoom while he was hanging out at the crib with his nieces. Beyond chopping it up about games, he gave us a preview of the full-blown petting zoo he has down there, which includes an iguana, a Savannah monitor, an exotic bully puppy, and two baby bearded dragons.
What was the first video game you ever played?
The first video game I’ve ever played was Mortal Kombat, the Sega Genesis. It ended up being my favorite game still to this day. I liked everything, from the storylines to the characters to the fighting. I’m not really good at sports games, I’m not good at 2K. I’m actually good at Mortal Kombat, that’s another reason why I like it.
Who are you playing with?
My brothers, my cousins, my homies. I actually have a gaming room in my house, I just moved in. I came outside to check on my pet iguana, he chills on the patio since it’s hot. [Laughs] I have a petting zoo in my house, for real. I have a Savannah monitor that’ll grow to be eight feet, he’s a baby though. I have an exotic bully here in the cage, that’s my baby. She got the blue eyes, about seven weeks. I have two big dogs downstairs, and two baby bearded dragons. There’s two in [a cage], I don’t know where the other one is.
What do you feel when you play video games?
I feel good, this is my little work station where I play the games. These are my favorites: I got Mortal Kombat 1, 2, 3. I have a GameCube, which not too many people have anymore. This is pretty old. I have Rocket Power and Madagascar, I still play them today. I have three TVs set up.
How much of the day are you gaming?
Whenever I’m free for real. I’m not free a lot, I’ve only been free during the quarantine. Before, I’d play whenever I could. Or I take my Switch with me and play that.
Do you play in the studio?
Yes, the Switch is portable so I can play it anywhere. I like to play on the private jet, dressing rooms. I have the same games on my Switch that I have on my Xbox, so it doesn’t even matter. The Mortal Kombat and all that.
Does gaming inspire your music at all?
Fasho, I actually do a lot of gaming references. That’s probably why people don’t be knowing what I’m talking about. I actually pitched one game to Mortal Kombat for “12,” they hit me back too. They rock with the song. It has a bunch of MK references in it, like characters and all that.
That’d be so full circle!
That’ll be the second game I’m on. They have me and Pop Smoke on the GTA. When they do the heist on GTA, me and Pop Smoke play the “100K On A Coupe.”
What does it mean to have a record with Pop on a video game?
It was lit. I felt good about me and Pop’s relationship for real, and the music we made. His energy was crazy. I didn’t know him for a long time but for the little time that I did know him, he was cool. His energy was real lit up, that’s why I rocked with him. It feels good to have a song with him on there.
How do your music and gaming intersect?
Man, I have to be enjoying some music to actually play the game good. Music will actually put you in the right mood to do good in the game, whatever game you’re playing. You have to have good music to go with your game, it has to go hand in hand. If you’re playing some garbage music, you’re damn near losing on the game.
I had to find my babies, I forgot they’re in the basement. This is my American bully and my Frenchie. My bully’s big, but he’s only 8 months. I love dogs, I got a bunch of dogs.
Do you like Twitch?
My brothers have been trying to put me onto Twitch. I just started using it but I do like it. My fans get on there and tweak with me while I’m playing the game. Everybody loves to watch Call of Duty and I’m not really that good at Call of Duty. I like Tekken and Mortal Kombat.
Are you looking for action or story?
I really like those types of gameplays. The multi-player fighting is the only type of games I really like, unless I play a single player adventure game like Assassin’s Creed or Uncharted.
Are you excited for the next GEN of consoles like PlayStation 5?
Yes, I have four Xbox One’s and three PlayStation 4’s I’ll probably get two of each to see how they go. I’m really rooting for the Xbox though because I’m an Xbox fan, I have Microsoft everything.
Why do you get two of each?
Because I live with my brothers and they all have their own personal preferences. I’m going to get one of each for myself, then I’m going to get an Xbox for my brother and a PlayStation for my other brother. Both of them are separated like that.
Is there anything you’d like to see happen in the gaming world?
I’d like to see more cross networking, like the Call of Duty sh*t. I’d like to see a lot more of that on the games where the PC players can play with the Xbox players, who can play with the PlayStation player. I have three TVs across one wall, so all of my brothers have a single console playing the same game with me. It’s lit up. They already do it on Call Of Duty, I just want to be able to do it on more games.
You linked with King Von on “Brand New.” What did that mean for Chicago?
It’s lit up, Chicago’s lit up. Von’s like family, so that wasn’t hard to do. We linked up, showed love and did the video. Von actually came up with the scheme for the video. I’m like “what we gon’ do?” He said “man, let’s make something quick!” We did our slight acting scene in the beginning, talked our little sh*t.
How was that?
It was fun, we enjoy ourselves. We be chillin’. It meant a lot for Chicago, we’re showing and proving. We’re the best city in the world, honestly. I say that in the humblest way, there’s no food like Chicago food. No rappers like Chicago rappers, nobody will beat your ass like Chicago people will. All that.
Since you’re in the A, do you go back to Chicago often?
Yeah, I visit moms and pops. Pull up, ride through the 100’s and see my peoples. I’m out of there. I don’t stay too long. If I’m there, I stay for about two or three days and I’m back.
How much more did you game during quarantine versus normal?
Man, probably 100 percent more. My gameplay went up 100 percent. [laughs] I haven’t really had any time, I just started poppin’. I hopped on two tours. Show after show, the walk through, then I be tired. I don’t have a bunch of energy in me so I be shutting down. Ever since I’ve been at the crib not doing sh*t, I’ve been playing the game every day now. I’m starting to like new games that I thought I’d hate. I’m in this b*tch playing Mario Bros. That shIt raw as hell though, I’m in that motherf*cker gassing.
What other games did you discover during quarantine?
Mega Man. I be trying to go back. Dr. Mario, it’s like Tetris. That sh*t goes crazy. I’ve played Crash Bandicoot, Super Mario Odyssey. I’ve been going crazy on the Nintendo for real.
Is it the same when you play on Twitch?
Yeah, it’s the same. It’s just funny, I read the comments from my fans.
Is there anything we can look forward to?
“Long Live The Kings” deluxe on the way. I shot two videos in one day yesterday. It was 14 hours, some crazy sh*t. We got them done, so new content coming out in about two weeks.
What features do you have on the deluxe?
Of course, Fivio Foreign, King Von, and big bro Gotti came through again. We got some shit. I can’t spill all the beans though!