Vince Staples On Why ‘It’s Good For The Kids To See’ Rappers And Athletes Gaming On The Big Stage

MINNEAPOLIS – Vince Staples is one of those guys who could do a lot with a 25th hour in each day. He’s a font of energy — creative and otherwise — as he never does anything halfway, whether it be his music, his video projects, his love for hoops, or his prodigious ability at trolling. It’s impossible to think of him any other way. For some authenticity is corporate jargon; for Staples, it’s a a North Star.

The Long Beach native braved the cold of Minneapolis to take in the Call of Duty League’s kickoff weekend in Minnesota at the Armory, and was set to compete with Michael B. Jordan, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Andrew Wiggins in the league’s first Hype Battle. To get fans riled up, he went on one of his patented Twitter sprees, egging fans on and drumming up a bunch of attention for the event. One can imagine him smiling throughout as he hits send on his tweets, a true product of the online generation who can find joy in the tiniest moments.

Prior to the event, Staples, Wiggins, and Towns did some media availability and a quick photo shoot, and while this was going on, the first reports of Kobe Bryant’s passing started to make their way around the room. The trio, phones safely in pocket, weren’t aware at first, making for a surreal and gut-wrenching tonal shift. Collectively, they all decided to cancel the Hype Battle as word spread, and the league had a moment of silence for Bryant as fans still were trying to confirm whether or not the news was actually true.

Staples was gracious with his time before the reports came in, and Uproxx had the chance to speak with him about his love for FPS, his hatred for camping in Call of Duty, and why it’s so important for kids to see rappers and athletes gaming in the “oversharing” era.

Martin Rickman: What got you started, what was the first game you remember playing that got you hooked on video games?

Vince Staples: I was playing before then, but probably Hitman. Hitman was probably the first game I was playing a lot of, and all that. I kind of remember Hitman and Medal of Honor. I was playing Halo when I was seven, but I wasn’t really on it like that, but when I was younger, Hitman and Medal of Honor, for sure. Uncharted later on down the line. I was playing Far Cry, stuff like that.

That’s interesting, a lot of FPS.

Yeah. I even, I didn’t really get into Grand Theft Auto until later, later. I didn’t really play a lot of Vice City. I didn’t play a lot of San Andreas. So I was like, I was playing weird games when I was a kid, nothing that was typical.

When it comes to your strategy, I know trash talk is obviously a big part of who you are, and then like mentally shaking the dudes that you’re playing against, but what’re the weapons you like to use in Call of Duty? How do you approach playing?

I don’t even really be talking that much. It’s not, sometimes, I’ll be chilling. I use a Aug, and M4 sometimes. I really use an Aug though because it’s like, I don’t like to just stay ADS, I like to move around. So it’s like, if you put the attachments on the like M4, that’s going to get too heavy, and then you’re going to lose all them gunfights. But sometimes, I do like an M4 and like a shotgun for Overkill. I don’t really don’t even need most of that other stuff. I would probably say an Aug and a shotgun is probably it.

At close range, if you blast somebody, it’s a lot more fun.

I’m just saying, if you’re running around, nobody is going to be expecting for you to come around that corner that fast, especially with everybody camping this year. So if they’re camping, and you come around the front, you’re going to win. It’s not easy. The way that they got these shotguns set up, and the way that they patch the gunfights in, we need something with some power. So, I don’t even really like to try to go into thistles and things like that.

When you look at where this league has come, and have seen just how good some of these dudes are in the pro end, you have that opportunity to play with dudes that are just insane.

It let me know I wasn’t that bad. Because I didn’t play Call of Duty ever until last year, that’s when I first played the game. But then, even yesterday, I haven’t played in a couple weeks and I played like two games just to see if I still had it. It’s really technique. If you pick a technique that works for you…

You stick with who you are.

Yeah, you’ll be fine. There are so many campers. It’s so annoying. So, it’s like, if you run around, you’ll be good.

Yeah, man. So, I saw you were playing around with some of the fans a little bit on Twitter, which is what you do. But, what did they expect? And what do you expect when it comes to Call of Duty fans?

I don’t know. I just be playing with them, man. I be playing with them. I don’t know if they know if I’m serious or not. That’s the funniest part of it. No, man, I feel them. Fans are funny in general because they’re so passionate, so it’s cool to mess with them a little bit from time to time. That’s human. But, it’s cool to see that a video game can have this much impact on people’s lives. It is in the spotlight.

If you think about it, it makes perfect sense, you play your whole life, and it’s become a community. When we were younger, it wasn’t really any cross-platform or internet. You had to go to someone’s house to play a game with them. So you can see how big the community has gotten just through the internet. It’s interesting.

What does gaming do for you? Whether you’re on a bus, whether you’re at home, how does it help you creatively, or just relieve stress?

I mean, it’s cool. Nowadays, it’s cool to pass the time. When I was younger, it was like, trying to keep you out of trouble. Staying home. But, to help pass the time, it’s a wide usage of time. I feel like that’s what it does for a lot of kids. If outside’s not particularly the thing that’s going to give you an imagination, anything that kind of makes you optimistic, it can you in a whole other world, if you play the right game. And that’s one thing that people overlook when it comes to video games. You might not think you have relief, where you come from, no matter where you’re at, you turn it on, and you’re in outer space, or something like that. I think that’s the underrated quality of it.

What is mean to have, guys like yourself, like T-Pain and some of the other musicians, but also like basketball players, being so vocal about their love for games, helping these kids.

I think it’s a matter of the times. We’re in an oversharing culture with social media and things like that. Of course, it’s going to pop out, like, look at how many units these things are selling, so based on how many games are constantly being sold, I’m pretty sure so many people that are considered celebrities would have these things so it’s cool to see. I know Yachty plays. T-Pain plays, Post Malone plays. A lot of people play. They might go to Madden, 2K, and all these other things. A lot of people play a lot of these games so it’s good for the kids to see. They know they have things in common, but we live in that kind of society now where people like to share what they’re doing. I think it can only be helpful when it comes to this.

You think about when we were growing up and everything. Sometimes gaming didn’t necessarily seem cool. You just do it because it’s fun for you. But certain things had a stigma, and then now it’s like … everybody does it.

It’s funny, when I was a kid, everybody played. It’s like, you played Madden or you played Tony Hawk. When it comes to the other games, if somebody was playing Skyrim, like, yeah, we was gonna clown you for life. I think we’re kind of getting over that, at this point in time.

When you see where Long Beach is headed, all the development going on in North Long Beach in the last couple of years, what else needs to be done in the city to keep it moving forward and also keep the identity that it has?

I think our identity changes over time. It’s not a big deal, but the thing with that is if you’re going to improve and change the city, you have to also consider the people that stay there, and make sure they have opportunities, and you’re thinking about them, when you’re thinking about the beautification process. And I would say that’s pretty much it. Just think about the people that stay there.

Uproxx was hosted by Call of Duty for the reporting on this piece. However, Call of Duty did not review or approve this story in any way. You can find out more about our policy on press trips/hostings here.