EXCLUSIVE: NWA founder Arabian Prince opens up about eSports passion
Recently, eGaming Desk sat down to speak with music mogul Arabian Prince, a founding member of the iconic hip-hop group NWA.
While he is perhaps best known for his work in the music industry as a rapper, producer, and DJ, his talents and creative endeavours extend far beyond music.
He is also a technologist, futurist, former pro gamer, designer, and developer.
Professor X, as he is also known, has either been playing games professionally or developing them for the last “35 to 36 years”, with a deep-rooted infatuation for Quake, Quake Live, Doom, and Castle Wolfenstein.
For as long as Arabian Prince has been involved with music, he has also been heavily invested in video games.
“This is the honest truth, I always tell this story,” the rapper recalls. “When we first started DJing and making records, we would always go out at the parties and the clubs and we’d be partying, and everyone’s drinking and smoking and having a good time.
“But when these early video game systems began popping up like the Coleco, suddenly all people wanted to do was play video games.
“Fools was rushing back to the room or rushing back to the tour bus to play video games, and I saw that and I was like man, this is the new crack!”
Instantly, the music idol knew he had to get involved. Before long, he had used his royalty checks to buy a computer and was teaching himself how to code.
He learnt some of the earliest methods of modern animation. “I did it just so I could be in that, and I just got lucky and was in the right place at the right time and got involved man – the rest is history,” he says.
Hall of Fame Artist @OGArabianPrince and Black Dog Venture Partners form esports consultancy, Black Dog Gaming
— Black Dog Gaming (@blackdoggaming) September 25, 2019
“I’m already on the celebrity side of things because there’s a lot of stuff out there on the pro level. There’s some amateur stuff going and us celebrities… we’re gamers too.” – Arabian Prince
One of the DJ’s most recent ventures has seen him team up with Black Dog Ventures to launch an eSports consultancy known as Black Dog Gaming.
Arabian Prince already knew people working for Black Dog Ventures prior to the partnership, and he spoke about how the company was already working on “some little things and they needed some support”.
“So, I’m like hey, I’m all in. I’m already on the celebrity side of things because there’s a lot of stuff out there on the pro level. There’s some amateur stuff going on and us celebrities… we’re gamers too.
“It’s one of those things where it’s like, why can’t we have our own league and put something together where we can all get together and do some crazy gaming stuff as well?”
The former pro gamer will be aiding Black Dog Gaming with the day-to-day side of the business. The remainder of the team will be laser-focused on funding and management.
He tells us that there are more and more companies cropping up in the eSports world looking to capitalise on the booming success the industry is witnessing, but the majority of these businesses have relatively little understanding of how to manage their companies.
“We’re going to be that consultancy firm that helps them get over those humps and be successful, and at the same time grow something that’s meaningful in the eSports space,” the technologist reveals.
There is a side to eSports that is less spoken about though, and that is the health, wellness, and nutritional side of the industry.
This is an area Arabian Prince says he’ll be addressing soon, although he can’t comment on anything too in-depth just yet.
While this dimension of the industry isn’t talked about often, it is still a pivotal aspect that needs to be discussed, as players can often be spending 16-20 hours per day sitting in a chair without moving.
“We have to figure that side out, otherwise we’re creating a bunch of zombies,” the music magnate jests.
He goes on to tease that he has a prototype that he wants to show, but is currently unable to. However, he did say he will likely be making an announcement about the project in January during an unspecified event.
“I want to show you, but we are about to hit that side of the industry heavily.”
— Arabian Prince(NWA) (@OGArabianPrince) July 30, 2019
Arabian Prince has also recently teamed up with a company called Marseille, which has developed a nifty processing chip that could upscale the resolution on TVs. This product is known as the mClassic and has been on sale for a short while now.
“I had an idea to redesign it – because I’m a designer – and make something that was going to go viral, and my first foray was to make something for the Nintendo Switch,” he informs us.
He then exclusively revealed to eGaming Desk what the first product was initially going to be – a Nintendo Switch dock.
“It was supposed to be the first product, but we had some issues with the way Nintendo managed their powering of the Nintendo Switch. They didn’t follow the protocols of USB Type-C. They have their own weird protocol for powering the Nintendo Switch, so it’s going to take us a little longer to figure out how they did it.”
“I’ve built custom PCs. I’m like this mad Willy Wonka scientist cat. I’m a prototyper. I’m a designer. I’m always just trying to create a new product.” – Arabian Prince
Since the eSports craze truly took flight, a growing number of celebrities have looked to dip their toes into the industry.
This is a trend Arabian Prince believes will continue as the phenomena will eventually be worth “a billion dollars per year”.
“Everybody wants to get in, and that’s the problem. Everybody wants to get in, but since it’s so new no one knows where to get in, how to get in, or where the money is. A lot of money is going in, but not a lot of money is going out,” the entrepreneur states.
It’s not just eSports that he believes will continue thriving either. The DJ believes mobile gaming will also go from strength to strength. He adds that the US is “so far” behind Asia when it comes to gaming.
“A lot of people are mad at the fact companies are switching to mobile gaming right? One of my favourite games was by Blizzard, Diablo, and they just announced Diablo is only going to be available on mobile – a lot of people freaked out and got mad. I kind of got mad too, I ain’t going to lie, but they looked at the bigger picture.”
He continues to discuss how Blizzard is thinking like a business and how to make the most money, and how going mobile is the next logical step because of the huge number of people playing games on mobile.
“It’s the future,” he claims.
He predicts that mobile gaming will emulate the Nintendo Switch formula – which is to say that the games will be situated on a mobile device to be played while out and about but can also be plugged into or streamed to a TV when at home.
— Arabian Prince(NWA) (@OGArabianPrince) September 24, 2019
“Gaming is what’s going to take blockchain over to the next level.” – Arabian Prince on blockchain gaming
Blockchain is an emerging technology which has gained significant traction thanks to its use with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
During our interview, Arabian Prince revealed that he has been around blockchain since its infancy back in 2008-2009, when he was experimenting with cryptocurrency for in-game transactions – a concept which has since become wildly popular.
What is appealing about integrating the technology into video games is that it helps provide transparency, allows gamers to actually own and trade in-game items, and removes the need for trust when trading with the help of smart contracts.
As a champion for the technology, Arabian Prince will actually be refereeing a ‘blockchain cage match’ between two factions: those who are for it and those who are against it.
He reveals: “I think that it’s going to be the transparent future. It’s going to keep people honest and at the same time give value to items.
“Man, I think as gaming gets bigger, gaming is what’s going to take blockchain over to the next level.”
Songwriter producer Arabian Prince @OGArabianPrince helped found NWA, taught himself coding, launched a special effects studio, founded Open Labs initiative via his @inov_8 incubator, at chat moderated by @KendraBracken #UrbanTechConnect @PISouthLA pic.twitter.com/4sKNWQjyld
— Digital LA (@DigitalLA) May 16, 2019
“Stop holding the next generation down and let them free, let them create.” – Arabian Prince
One of the rapper’s greatest passions is empowering the next generation of youth and providing them with the tools to create.
Arabian Prince is working on many projects and new IPs, but while doing all of this, he is also helping create technology centres for younger generations to be equipped with the right tools to succeed.
He wants young kids to know that they are the future and that they can create anything they want without any restrictions or boundaries when it comes to technology.
The producer is urging them to “break the mould of curriculum, break the mould of how we learn and create”.
He alludes to some of the most successful people the world has ever seen, such as Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Steve Jobs, and how all of these people were younger than 20 when they devised their ideas.
“There’s these kids sat in their rooms, and I call kids prisoners – they’re in a house, locked in their room, they’re prisoners. They’re in there trying to figure a way to get out, and that’s where all of these technologies come from,” he says.
“Stop holding the next generation down and let them free, let them create. That’s what I’m trying to do man, just build platforms for the next generation to create.”
As the interview drew to a close, the superstar told us “my fundamental belief is that everything is technology”.
He also had an important message for parents who want their children to stop playing so many video games.
“There are hundreds of game jobs out there in eSports and video games in general for a kid you may call a loser because all he wants to do is play video games.
“Well, if that’s what he wants to do for a living, go get his ass a job being a game tester, because I’ve got buddies that were game testers in the late 80s and early 90s, and these dudes are producers on freaking Call of Duty and all of the big games making millions of dollars each year because they were the professionals.
“Your kid, sat in his room, is a game professional, and if that’s what he wants to do, go let him do that because there’s hundreds of jobs out there.”