‘Too Easy’

Mr. Pizzy and Mistah connect on infectious collab album Game Changers

Eric Christenson, photos by Andrea Paulseth

GAME CHANGERS. Mason Hateli a.k.a. Mr. Pizzy (left) and Raymond Clayton a.k.a. Mistah have been wanting to collaborate on a hip hop album for years and years, and this fall, it finally happened with seamless results.
GAME CHANGERS. Mason Hateli a.k.a. Mr. Pizzy (left) and Raymond Clayton a.k.a. Mistah have been wanting to collaborate on a hip hop album for years and years, and this fall, it finally happened with seamless results.

Two of the Chippewa Valley’s finest and most prolific hip hop artists are aiming high and ready to change the game.Raymond Clayton a.k.a. Mistah – whose can’t-stop-won’t-stop work ethic has produced a staggering number of solo and collaborative albums with his group Big Business – and Mason Hateli a.k.a. Mr. Pizzy – a local rap mainstay who’s brought heat to countless albums on his own and with his group WayWard – just dropped a seamless team-up called Game Changers.

Both rappers have been in the local hip hop game for a long time, and this new collaboration comes after many years of talking about working together. Mr. Pizzy put Mistah on stage for his first show almost 10 years ago, and ever since they’ve wanted to eventually, maybe someday do an album together. Well, that eventually-maybe-someday has finally come with Game Changers, and the result is a undeniably fun collection of effortless hip hop gold.

Both artists said that comes from a similar mindset, and a huge amount of respect for each other.

“After that first show year ago, I wanted to do something with him,” Clayton said. “I saw how he performed and it was amazing. I’ve seen him at rap battles, and I was like ‘We’re in the same battle, please don’t have to battle me. I don’t want to go against you.’”

And for Hateli, who has about 10 years on Clayton, the level of dedication and craft that Clayton brings to the table was clear right out of the gate.

“One of the very first times I saw him I was like, ‘He’s the full package,’” Hateli said. “He has the stage presence, he has the lyrics, he has the cadence. He just controls everything he’s doing on stage, and he’s one heck of a performer. That drew me in instantly. I was like ‘That’s somebody I need to work with.’”

So after years of sharing the stage and both doing their part to uplift the Chippewa Valley’s ever-evolving hip hop scene, the two finally got in the studio together to lay vocals down over some of Clayton’s choicest beats. Clayton produced the whole album, and it almost exclusively puts the two rappers in the spotlight, save for a few cool vocal features from Ben Da Bomb Diggity, Lil Rieck, and Mary Jane Holm.

In the studio with engineer Chris Hoyt, the work flowed gracefully.

“It was too easy,” Clayton said with a laugh. Hateli added: “When we got together, it was just knowing that we wanted to make something really great – game changing, if you will. It was really easy to make it all work together. It was almost serendipitous.”

Game Changers knocks, the flows feel fluid, and these two have natural charisma together. So it makes sense that they’re already looking ahead to start recording Game Changers 2 by the year’s end. For two of the hardest working rappers in the local game, a true collaboration like this feels proper and necessary.

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