Kid Ink

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The Amer­i­can rap­per and beat ’em up fan on keep­ing the en­ergy in the room and land­ing hits in ev­ery­thing he does

Kid Ink (AKA Brian Todd Collins) be­gan his full-time mu­sic ca­reer at 22. Since 2012, he’s con­sis­tently hit the up­per ech­e­lons of the Bill­board 200 chart, reach­ing the top 20 with de­but al­bum Up & Away. His third al­bum Full Speed charted in the UK Top 10 upon re­lease in Fe­bru­ary. He will play the Wire­less Fes­ti­val in Lon­don on June 28, with a full UK tour in Oc­to­ber. Here, the rap­per talks play­ing to psy­che him­self up for record­ing, and tat­too death moves. What kicked off your in­ter­est in games? I’ve been play­ing since I was five years old. Su­per Mario, Street Fighter, Sega and Nin­tendo took up a lot of my time as I was grow­ing up. I was al­ways com­pet­i­tive and games ap­pealed to that side of me. I cut back as I got older, when I wanted to go out, meet girls. But I’ve al­ways been into it. Do you play games in the stu­dio? I’m very com­pet­i­tive, and re­ally into fight­ing games like Street Fighter and Mor­tal Kom­bat. When­ever I play those, it’s al­ways win af­ter win. But if you lose, no mat­ter how many times you’ve won be­fore, there’s al­ways got to be a re­match. You get to think­ing about when you lost and that’s dis­tract­ing. It’s the en­ergy. I can’t lose. And if you’re win­ning, it’s a real boost to your ego and con­fi­dence. It can get a lit­tle dis­tract­ing, but if it’s more fast-paced I can go through rounds with peo­ple and then be like, ‘I’m go­ing into the [vo­cal] booth real quick,’ and then come back out.

I‘ve tried to play Mad­den in the mid­dle of the stu­dio and that doesn’t re­ally work — that takes about an hour out of ev­ery day, whereas you can get a fight­ing game done in 30 sec­onds. You can have those mo­ments where you can clear your mind real quick, get a boost to your con­fi­dence be­fore get­ting in the booth. When peo­ple don’t hear you sound­ing like you’re con­fi­dent, that you be­lieve in what you’re say­ing, they can’t feel it. Some­times you can say less and peo­ple can feel it more than if you’re say­ing a bunch of words and you don’t sound con­fi­dent. Does that scale up to help­ing you suc­ceed in the mu­sic in­dus­try? It’s the same thing, you know? I feel like I don’t like play­ing videogames by my­self as much as I like play­ing with other peo­ple. More so, I don’t like be­ing the only per­son out mak­ing mu­sic too, or not have any­thing to com­pete with. It’s dope to have a lot of songs on the ra­dio, to be at the top of your game, but I feel if there’s not enough com­pe­ti­tion it slows artists down some­times be­cause they’re not feed­ing off other peo­ple, they’re just feed­ing off of them­selves. If you weren’t mak­ing mu­sic, would you want to cre­ate games in­stead? I wanted to make videogames at one point. I wanted to go to a school and learn how to make ’em and make some crazy shoot­ing and fight­ing games. I al­ways wanted to make a celebrity fight­ing game, like Celebrity Death­match but with a realer, Mor­tal Kom­bat- like sta­tus. They came out with dif­fer­ent ones with rap­pers, but that was more like wrestling. I think we need to make a Mor­tal Kom­bat game like that. If you were to fea­ture in that kind of game, how about a spe­cial move? Oh, I’d prob­a­bly have a move where my tat­toos come alive, like one of them jumps off my body and kills you or does some­thing crazy. So, if some­one makes this char­ac­ter in a game, you know where it came from! And what about your favourite game? I just love fight­ing games – Mor­tal Kom­bat and Tekken, but Street Fighter’s the one. Ken’s my man; he’s num­ber one. Guile is my num­ber two, Ryu’s my num­ber three, and I think Chun-Li is my num­ber four. But I’m one of those play­ers who plays and learns so much that I can play with pretty much any­one. I’m big into tac­tics. I don’t like just but­ton bash­ing. I go through all the tu­to­ri­als and learn all I can. When I use Ken, it’s all played be­tween the Hadouken and the dragon punch. I al­ways try to make sure I’m not the guy where they say, “Oh, you’re only good with this one per­son.” There’s never just one guy. I think that throws peo­ple off, be­cause I think they al­ways want to try to learn your [char­ac­ter]. As soon as some­body’s learned that, I just switch over, be­cause I know the same per­son they keep us­ing, and I’m all good.

“I wanted to make videogames at one point. I al­ways wanted to make a celebrity fight­ing game”

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