Interview: GameboyJones Blends Anime And Rap Seamlessly
You might’ve heard some of his songs, like “Uchiha Cypher“, which has amassed over 800,000 streams on Spotify or his song “Uraraka“, which has over 3 million streams. Not to mention, Lizzo even used his song “Red Light, Green Light” in one of her TikTok posts. With over 150,000 monthly listeners and 9.5 million streams on Spotify last year, GameboyJones’ anime-influenced rhymes are becoming more and more in demand.
Ahead of him performing at this year’s MomoCon, taking place between May 26-29, Geeks of Color spoke with the talented rapper.
Check out the interview with GameboyJones below:
How did you get your start with mixing hip hop with anime references?
GameboyJones: Okay, so the way this happened was more or so when I first started making music. I figured out I didn’t want to rap about my life from the get-go. So I think I sat on my hand after I wrote my first thing. I basically didn’t do anything for three years because I said I want to think of what I want to actually do and what I first started doing were covers of popular 100 Billboard songs and it was geeky references across the board. So, comic books, anime, video games, all that stuff.
Then fast forward, I started making actual music about the properties themselves. So again, video games, comic books, and anime. Then learning more about YouTube, it came down to feeding the beast. And YouTube loves consistent content staying within a certain category. Being geeky is not a specific category because there are too many avenues to go [down]. So, I said if I have to pick between the three, I’m going [with] anime. I was like, “Anime never gets old to me”.
People like Naruto all day long. People like Dragon Ball all day long. People like My Hero Academia now all day long. That’s the reason why I kind of went down that avenue because I think it’s the category I have the most love for out of the three. But at the end of the day, I do it because I find it to be a more fun catalyst to rap through than it is to rap through myself. I just love rapping through the catalyst of anime characters.
What are your top three anime?
GbJ: So my favorite anime, to this day, is YuYu Hakusho. That will never change.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and then Attack on Titan. I’m one of those people where I don’t like putting anime in [my top three] that haven’t finished. But I said, look, “Attack on Titan could completely fumble the bag right now and you still cannot dispute that it’s not top ten [anime]”. It’s that good that you can’t dispute it, even if they had the shittiest ending to your show right now.
I got my wife into anime. Fun fact. She was a person who goes, “Anime. Oh, that tentacle stuff”. She’s actually one of those people. And now there was a certain point where I was like, “I don’t know if she’s watching anime because I’m watching it or if she finally really likes it”. The thing is, she really enjoyed anime, but the day we watched Assassination Classroom was the day where it clicked with her. And it’s funny because I’m about to go now to PAX East, and she messaged me, and she’s like, “I finished Angels of Death”. So I thought, “Alright. Cool. So you just like anime now?”
Who are your greatest musical influences?
GbJ: Okay. So I’d say past influences, one still kind of like current would be Kanye West, which goes for past and current. Childish Gambino, and surprisingly enough a group called Pac Div. They’re based out of LA. It was just a three-band squad and they just made these really dope mixtapes. I just love people who rap and that’s my thing.
Nowadays, my current musical influences, my four would be IDK. Dope guy. He raps and also does R&B. He’s probably the closest person I am like, as far as making music. Then Smino, Kanye, and then Denzel Curry.
Making TikToks is a big part of your career. What made you start creating TikToks?
GbJ: What made me start TikTok was specifically that it’s a big platform. Almost no one in my scene uses it. Like, we’re starting to get some people now. But what happened was there was a day where I saw my one song get a lot of views. I was like, “What is happening right now?” And I looked for the source and someone just posted the “Uraraka” track I did on TikTok and it just got a lot of views.
But again, TikTok is something that they’re kind of fixing. It just showed as an original sound. It didn’t show as my song, but enough people liked it that they actually searched [for it] and it kind of still had an uptick. So I said, “You know what? I’m going to basically make it known that I am the face of this song”. So I’d kind of be like, “Hey, have you heard this song? This is me”. And I just started making more TikToks and it blew up.
So for TikTok, whenever I say, “Uraraka going viral”, I always tell people that it is an old song. That song was two years old when it blew up. So I always tell people, you can hear that song. It’s not indicative of what I make today.
What’s your favorite track that you’ve made?
GbJ: So I put four here. So I recently dropped the track called “Really My Type” with my boy Jhbboss. Really, like, soulful R&Bish type track. So we get into the anime, My Dress Up Darling. And it was cool just to just talk to a girl because a lot of stuff that we rap about is Shonen “I’mma punch you in the face”. I was like, “Alright, cool. I don’t got to do that here.”
“Tengen Uzui”, which I was not about to go through the whole slice and dice aspect. My chorus, “I got three bad bitches in the back.” Tengen got those. His wives. He got the baddies.
And then, of course, I flip over and I do “On the Gang”, which is about the Uchiha clan. And I’m just “rapping rapping” on this one and it’s fun.
I can do, like, Naruto bars and make it sound hard. It’s cool. Then “Heat up Freeze Up”. It is a Todoroki track. And one, it goes hard. But I love even the progression of my verse because some of it’s just like I had turmoil, but now I’m proving people wrong because obviously, Todoroki goes through shit with his dad. He has to train. I get to encompass that inside a verse. So, that’s also another one that I like, so I’m leaving it at those four.
Lizzo used your song in one of her TikToks. What was your reaction to that?
GbJ: The funny thing is, I didn’t know. I had a friend send it to me. They’re like, “Hey, Lizzo, just used your song”. I was like, “What?” So then I had to get on and I was like, “Oh, snap!”
She only used a little bit of it. I know all she did was type in Squid Game and she used it, and she gave me no second thought. And I said, “You know what? I don’t care. I do not care. Lizzo used my song, and it made a boom”.
I think there’s like 300,000 videos that use that song. I tweet out every two months or so, “Lizzo, I want to take you out to lunch for using my song. You don’t even know who I am. You probably didn’t think about it, but I’m taking you out to lunch at some point for using my song.”
Who would you collaborate with for your dream musical collaboration?
GbJ: Okay. All right, so again, we’re going to go back up to the whole influencers thing. I’d say Denzel Curry and IDK because, for two sides of the spectrum, I would want to make a hype song with Denzel Curry, and I would want to make either a swaggy or an R&B type track with IDK.
And again, I can always throw in Kanye. If I were to be in the studio with one artist, it would be Kanye, especially after watching that documentary. Him 100%, but also another person I just recently saw in concert who I should have put on here now is Tyler, the Creator. Tyler now holds my number one spot for a concert right now. His Call Me If You Get Lost tour is insane and I was like, “I want to meet you now”.
You’re performing at MomoCon. How are you preparing for the event?
GbJ: It’s funny as you are saying this, the group chat for MomoCon, the guy who’s managing getting stuff, is messaging me about it right now. I know tonight I get my show mixes back from my dude. We’re going to come together and cut out some of my main vocals and stuff so I can rap without them on stage.
I bought a lot of clothes. Been working out again. Like workout and diet, so I can be somewhat skinnier on stage and also, for the photoshoot we’re about to do. Trying to find articles and do stuff to get my name out there and recently just got verified on Instagram.
Just trying to get out there a little bit more. But yeah, I think just the name of the game is making music.
How do you want to see your career evolve?
GbJ: I want to be famous enough that I can do cool stuff and not famous enough that I can just be a normal person. That’s why I think being a YouTuber felt so satisfying to me for a while because they sit at this über famous level but can just walk around and be cool and stuff.
For a while, I released a song every week for two to three years. So literally every week I would hurry up, make a song, get it out there, and I just did that weekly. Now, I’m at a point where I’m biweekly. What I would want to do is be able to sit back, make a song, have good marketing strategies, sit on things, and be able to put them out in very good strategic ways.
I’ve reached out and I’ve had people reach out to me so I’m talking to various management-type companies and stuff right now so that might be the move by the end of the year and stuff. It’s been a very interesting year to figure out this side of things.
In the words of Vince Staples who is like, “Man, I’m just a normal nigga that’s all that I want to be in life.” I don’t care about the cool guy shit I just want to be normal.