LONG BEACH, Cali. – T-Pain is yelling. Not at anyone, in particular, or at anything. Not in a mad, aggravated way, or even out of frustration. He’s yelling because T-Pain isn’t the type of person who can stay immobile, but playing a video game requires you to sit still to focus. Relaxing for him is staying busy, and staying busy gives his brain a break. For some, this would seem an oxymoron. For others, those wired in a way that makes sitting still impossible, it’s a common refrain.
After a particularly noteworthy kill while playing the beta of the new Call of Duty: Modern Warfare in the Mtn Dew Amp Game Fuel Pro-Am featuring the likes of Blake Anderson from Workaholics and Vince Staples, T-Pain gets up, exaggeratedly steps his foot out as if shifting gears in a car, and proclaims “that’s what you call clutch.”
He’s in his element, as comfortable as he’d be at home or on stage, and despite some hiccups with the new maps and his controller setup, he’s faring quite well against the pros and the other celebs in attendance. He and his partner make the finals against Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl Anthony-Towns. The two – who have been bantering all day – enjoy a friendly rivalry, and Towns showboats after he takes home the crown, or more appropriately the dog tags and bomber jacket awarded to the champs.
T-Pain has made a name for himself streaming on Twitch, especially while playing Overwatch. He’s boisterous, engaging, and playful, and he doesn’t reveal a shred of shame or embarrassment while he plays. There’s never a sense he’s trying too hard or that he’s uncomfortable. He’s playing games he enjoys playing, and he’s letting the world in on that experience. The artist known for his bouncy hooks and the autotune sound that dominated the end of the 2000s exudes joy on stage, and that bleeds into his streaming.
There is, to put it bluntly, something refreshing to knowing that T-Pain unabashedly loves gaming.
UPROXX Sports had the chance to speak with T-Pain following his championship loss at Thunder Studios, and discussed his favorite game growing up, what gaming has taught him, and why your favorite rapper is probably gaming, too, even if you don’t know it.
Martin Rickman: What was the game that got you hooked on video games?
T-Pain: Battletoads, no question.
Not Battletoads/Double Dragon?
The first Battletoads, and the Lion King.
The Lion King was hard.
That was the f*cking Dark Souls of my childhood. That’s what got me hooked.
You’ve said before that gaming is an opportunity to not be thinking, but while you’re not thinking, things come into your mind. Do you think that’s appropriate for guys like KAT, who have an entire life devoted to this one thing?