Five Mics Creator Talks Cards
Here’s a story that can only be adequately understood through the synergy of collecting and hip-hop: Ace Patterson and the creation of Five Mics. Growing up in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Ace developed a love of TCGs and hip-hop that followed him to Columbia University, UC Berkeley, working at Deloitte, Facebook, and YouTube. While Ace was flexing his academic and professional prowess, he was also carving a lane in the music industry as Call Me Ace. With three mixtapes, three EPs, four LPs, and charting on Billboard, Ace has proven his hip-hop bona fides. But his newest venture – Five Mics | The Hip-Hop Trading Card Game – is his most revolutionary.
Discover Ace’s love of collecting and TCGs, and the striking similarities between the hip-hop and hobby communities in the latest installment of Collector Stories.
How’d you get into collecting?
When I was in school is when I came across Pokémon. Pokémon was a crazy sensation, and it seemed like everybody had the cards and was playing the game. I wasn’t really playing the Pokémon TCG, but I was trying to have the dopest Pokémon collection on the playground. Collecting Pokémon cards and getting Charizard or trading for Blastoise was the vibe as a kid.
When did you start getting into TCGs?
I went to private school for middle school where they were playing Magic: The Gathering. I saw it, but I was like, that’s over there. Now Dragon Ball Z, a huge, crazy phenomenon of a show, was going on at the same time. So we was in the hood watching that. And when Dragon Ball Z came out with cards, I was like, this gives me that same vibe of getting the Pokémon cards, but this is also a game. And I ended up getting the cards and then playing them with my peers from middle school who were already into Magic. Now I’m going to tournaments and stuff like that – literally driving around the state to go play Dragon Ball Z. And then YuGiOh got big, and we was playing those too. Now I’m getting into high school, starting to rap, and being into cards and TCGs. But it was like I was living in dual worlds: in one world, I was collecting and playing TCGs with hip-hop more in the background; in another, I was playing Madden and NBA Street Vol. 2 with hip-hop in the foreground. Neither world was overlapping that much. So I found my patch where I could go and play these games. I’d go to a comic book store and find my squad for TCGs. Then I’d have my other squad for Madden, Tekken, NBA, and games like that. Over the years, I got really deep into TCGs, in particular. I was really into Marvel Vs. System, the cross-platfrom play of Shadow Era, Hearthstone, and even Magic.
How have your love of collecting and hip-hop informed and complemented each other?
I would say collectability, community, and competition – to give you three “Cs.” I’ve thought a lot about this: the intersection between the hip-hop community and the trading card game community is collectability, hands down. Think about sneakerheads; think about collecting vinyl; think about fandom and having that exclusive mixtape in the pre-streaming days. That’s the whole thing: having exclusive, rare drops and music is a very big deal within the hip-hop culture. It’s all about being able to express yourself through the things that you’ve collected.
It’s very similar to the TCG world and card game collectibles. Being able to have the super rare, the ultra-rare cards, the holographic ones, the ones that are only printed in Japanese, that’s a real big thing as well. Also, the community aspect – being able to find your people.
How did you decide to put the two together – hip-hop and TCGs – with Five Mics?
Not everyone is well-versed in hip-hop. Maybe some people only know it from big names like Jay-Z and Eminem. Outside of that, they don’t really know anything. But then you find your pockets of folks. There’s this pocket over here that likes this kind of hip hop; this pocket over there that likes another kind; some groups love it all. But you can have dialogue and conversations based on this love for the genre and the culture. You meet new people and realize you both love Denzel Curry. It’s very similar in TCGs. You go to tournaments; you go to local shops; you break open packs; you start nerding out. And the competition is very big on both sides. If you’re playing a game, you want to win; if you’re talking about hip-hop, you want your MCs to be the best: my artist is better than your artist. Putting those two things together makes sense because it’s all about being the best.
TCGs, by and large, take place in fantastical, sci-fi worlds, which not everyone is cool with. Because I love both – hip-hop and TCGs – I knew you could swap out the elves, magicians, dragons, and whatever with superhero rappers and artists, and it would make sense to both communities. And so many rappers and hip-hop artists take on superhero personas anyway; it makes sense. Putting Five Mics together and telling people about this has received nothing but excitement and positive feedback from hip-hop lovers, game lovers, and everyone in between.
Let’s look into the future after Five Mics is out in the world and doing its thing. What does the future of collecting and TCGs look like?
I think Five Mics and TCGs will give players and music fans new ways to engage with their favorite hip-hop artists and the genre. Let’s face it: unless you’re a super big household name, it’s really hard for an artist to sell tickets, sell music, or make a living. But Five Mics‘ combination of hip-hop and TCGs gives artists a new way to engage with their fans and potentially grow new fans through card games and collecting. I’m excited about the future of hip-hop that Five Mics offers the culture: the opportunity to create a new sense of lore, a new mythology that people can dive into that’s missing. Through the cards, collecting, and gaming, fans can nerd about and tell new stories about hip-hop that push the boundaries of what hip-hop and cards mean. And I also envision the future of collecting and TCGs to include real-world hip-hop artists being engaged in Five Mics as both player and a character battling it out against fictional characters. The cards and the culture will offer a place for collectors and artists alike to create stories about the past, present, and future of themselves and their communities.
How can people find Five Mics?
Go to fivemics.io, and you can join the waitlist and stay up to day on all the developments. We have a community that’s growing; people are getting really excited about what we’re building. So definitely join now so you can get early access to play and be a part of what we’re building. This culture is a global one; I’m really looking forward to seeing it grow.