Updated: Jan 13
I am absolutely elated to have had the opportunity to catch up with Midwest-based rhymester, producer, engineer & entrepreneur, Raymond Clayton! Known otherwise under the moniker, Mistah, Raymond has been preoccupied with his passions, defining what it means to hustle as a dedicated and determined industry professional. Born and raised in California, Mistah brings forth a West Coast meets Midwest sound through his matchless individuality presented in each track written and produced.
Mistah provides us with advice, inspiration, and insight into a hip hop artist and entrepreneur's life. As the Owner of Executive Class Productions, this jack of all trades has been making mad moves within the music and entertainment industry.
Find out what Mistah is all about in our featured interview with the music mogul!
Alright, so let's start with the basics! Where did your artist alias originate from?
Long story short. I used to go by Mr. Brix based on the lifestyle I was living at a younger age. I ran into a lot of trouble, and years were wasted of my life. Once I started to get back on track, I made it a goal to change how I was living. So I cut off the Brix, and now it's just Mistah.
Where did you grow up, and how did this shape your perspective and overall outlook on music and, most importantly - life in general?
The beginning of my life was spent growing up in California. At around 10 years old, I moved to the midwest. I also spent a little time in Washington right after high school. Seeing the different lifestyles helped me understand that there is more to life than just what we know. That's the beauty.
We all have a different story to tell. That's what I make an effort to have people hear in my music. Knowing it has helped others based on feedback I've received, which continues to drive me all day, every day.
Your music preserves an epic, old-school hip hop feel. As a producer and rapper, what key influences have contributed to the style of sound you produce throughout your creative pursuit?
For me, that's easy. I want to be like Nas, Kanye, and Ludacris all rolled up into one.
Especially with the growing influence and appreciation of Midwest hip hop, did you consider producing hip hop right off the bat? Overall, what drew you to the style of music you produce?
At first, I wasn't producing. I just wanted to be a rap superstar. Live Largely. Then I started to understand more and more how the industry worked. I was spending money everywhere and on everything. Then the money ran out. How do I do this now?
That's when I started to make Big Business grow and do as much as possible in-house. I feel like this approach created a reliable team and a stable network for the things we still need to outsource.
Can you identify your musical background, influences both inside and outside your local music scene, and in what ways have these talents and inspirations played a part in your music, if at all?
The local music scene in my area actually seems to be growing at a rapid rate. The increase in technology from when I first started to now makes it a lot easier for artists to create. I think it's a remarkable contribution to the evolution of Hip Hop. It also keeps me on my toes. I'm not going to change my style despite the growth of my own sound. Still, at the same time, I need to remain focused and progressing so that I don't get left in the past and continue to look forward towards my future.
In what ways has your local music scene influenced your musical concepts from ideas to creations?
I listen to everyone in my local area as much as I can. I like to know what's going on, who is doing what, and how the music is changing. When it comes to creating, though, I separate myself from everyone. I won't listen to local or even mainstream music. The reason for this is because I want to create and give people something I feel is a 100% authentic representation of me.
Tell us about your work with Executive Class Productions!
Executive Class Productions is something I have been putting a lot of time into. It is my production company that is focused on creating beats and instrumentals for artists. We have been working with quite a bit of film, television, and video gamers. Basically, anything you need related to the engineering and production of sounds can reach out to us. We will get it done.
Careerwise, what is your ultimate end goal?
My end goal is to become the best version of myself I can be. I believe like God has a plan for me. I just need to take the right steps, stay focused, and put in the work to get where I need to be.
I perpetually produce and write music. I would love to see this music take off and perform until I can't no more. If that doesn't work out, though, I've been diligently crafting my skills as an engineer.
I believe these positions within the operations of the music industry will always be necessary for entertainment. So what I am going to do is get in where my skills and goals align accordingly.
What kind of music do you listen to regularly? Any specific go-to genres, artists, or tracks, and why?
I listen to everything. Art is art, and that is what I am a fan of. My go-to is hip hop, and my playlists are generally filled with the musical influencers of mine I mentioned earlier.
I feel like there is a time and place for everything too. There are times I want to turn up with the new generation of hip hop, and then there are times I want to sit back, relax, or sing Alicia Keys in the shower.
Does the style of music you listen to regularly influence the type of music you produce or are producing at the time? If so, how?
Maybe subconsciously, but like I was saying I try to just isolate myself when creating. I want you to feel me.
You've accomplished so much as an artist and music business owner! What truly drives you as a person individually, and what key factors fuel your ambition? How do these influences play a part in your music and work ethics?
Well, thank you. I definitely don't feel anywhere close to done or where I want to be, but I am also my most far-reaching critic. For me, the fire's primary fuel, which ignites my passions and goals, has transitioned from merely getting "better" to becoming the "best I can be" so that I may show my daughter how to become the best version of herself.
I'm well aware this industry is very demanding. Wolves eat sheep.
The people you see at the top of anything have dedicated most of their lives to the area in which they are successful. I can't expect to do anything less, and that's why you see me always working, improving my craft every day.
Do you have any solo/side projects? If so, what styles of music do you produce/mix? If not, would you ever consider doing so in the future? Why or why not?
Right now, I don't. All work is either released as group work under Big Business or otherwise, my solo project under the alias Mistah, as you know. I am very interested in doing a collaboration album with a rock band and also an EDM producer. When it comes to the name, I'm not sure yet. I might just keep it the same with a little twist... You know, like Mr.BeatMurderer.
How has the music industry today influence the direction of your creative career as both an artist and a music business owner, if at all?
The main thing I get from the industry today is that everything is always evolving. You have to stay relevant in this day and age. So that is what I strive to do.
What obstacles have you encountered while working in the music industry that you believe are common yet often get left unnoticed while establishing a music career?
Nothing in this world is free, but people always seem to want free handouts. Just like everything, you get what you put in.
Do you believe there is anything more or less the music community and industry as a whole can contribute to maintaining a secure environment for artists and vice versa?
Personally, I think a lot of the music industry is built on lies, half-truths, and getting over on others. There are good people here, but you just need to find ways to connect with the right ones. That's why I make it a priority to keep good people around me.
What three tips of advice do you have for artists and music business owners looking to pursue a successful creative career in the music industry?
My advice would be to make sure you love what you are trying to get involved in. I say this because usually, you are going to have to work harder than you can ever imagine.
While enduring the repercussions of COVID-19 alongside the rest of the world, how has this pandemic influenced you individually as a person, creatively & careerwise?
I think Covid-19 has been a blessing in disguise for me. Don't get me wrong. It sucks. On the other hand, I have had time to regroup, focus, and create years worth of content to keep growing into the future.
The main area of growth for me would most definitely be what has been done with Executive Class Productions. I highly recommend checking out the website when you get a chance!
Do you have any new music on the way that you can share with us?!
Of course! We always have new music for the people. I've got some links below for those to stay connected.
Connect with Mistah
Network with Executive Class Productions
Be sure to peep Mistah's latest music video & track, "Highway"