It’s another day of Destiny 2 streaming for Detrick ‘UhMaayyze’ Houchens, and he and his team have zone advantage in The Dead Cliffs. Uhmaayyze is rocking a sniper rifle/hand cannon combo with a sword in his back pocket, and as he’s pushing with his team toward point A, he’s rapping the action on the screen, an old-school beat backing up his flow.
“‘Maayyze, what’s your favourite move?’ I call it Dawnblade,” he rhymes as he pops his Warlock super. “Hey, don’t run from me, I’m too fast, I be moving like he’s moving now, I’m too fabulous!” He slices an enemy who’s fled around a doorway into the Depot area, and takes out another with a fiery Dawnblade swing for a double play.
The clips Houchens shares on Twitter of his live Destiny 2 freestyle sessions are almost frustrating to watch: it seems like it should be impossible to be an effective Crucible player while simultaneously composing and performing rhymes that describe exactly what’s happening in the game. But he says that combining his love of freestyling with Destiny, which he’s been playing since the 2014 beta, has resulted in getting better at both.
“That’s what’s scary,” he tells us. “I tell chat that when I’m not rapping, I can’t even play like that. You know what I mean? But when I rap, I play at this level that is very, very balanced.”
UhMaayyze says he’s been on Twitch for six years, but when he started out, he played Destiny and occasionally would break to rap for a while. Freestyling while he played seemed like a terrible idea.
“I was like, nah, I can’t do anything like that,” he says. “I have to be at a standstill when I’m doing rap. I have to be not moving, completely.” But he said eventually the idea grew more appealing as a way to experiment with what he could do on Twitch. “Since it’s my sixth year on the platform, I mean, why not? This is my career, I might as well go ahead and explore it and see what I can do.”
After hitting a subscription goal he’d set for his viewers, UhMaayyze started playing Destiny 2 on stream, and he quickly discovered a comfortable groove as he added freestyle rhymes about the in-game action.
“When I’m freestyling, and I’m seeing what I’m doing, the other side of my mind is still at ease, and playing at that high-tier level that I wanted to play at,” he explains. “It’s like trying to control your words on the left side [of your brain], but trying to control the thumbsticks on the right side. So one side of your mind is telling a story. The other side of your mind is sort of producing the story you’re telling.”
Standing with two fellow fireteam members recently, UhMaayyze started up a beat, as the other Guardians in his group danced with emotes.
“Well I’m nasty when it comes to this game, I got a fever! ‘What you kill that boss with Maayyze?’ This is the Sleeper,” he spat, hefting a very big gun called Sleeper Simulant in his Warlock’s hands. “Crazy when you talk about games, I feelin’ old / I’ve been strugglin’ for streams right now for six years on.”
Uhmaayyze’s old-school style draws from his rap influences; Tupac, Biggie, Nipsey Hussle, and Dr Dre are his top four, with some Wu Tang Clan thrown in for good measure. “I’m an ’80s guy, and when people hear my flow, they get ’80s feelings.”
UhMaayyze is also a big mindset guy, and he’s keen to encourage his viewers to adopt a more positive attitude, which he sees as the key to success in streaming and in life in general. “It’s a matter of not getting in your own way, and clearing distractions from your mind. It’s like being Goku,” he says.
“If you watch Dragon Ball Super, you see this animated form Goku goes into called Ultra Instinct. But he’s not at the max form of the technique, he’s sort of in his Bruce Lee stage, where he’s using his mind, and his mind is doing more of the fighting than himself.
“He’s literally fighting and his eyes are closed, but he’s totally on point, he can’t be hit, and he’s hitting them in the critical spots without even looking at them,” UhMaayyze explains. “That’s what it feels like when you’re cracking that mindset.”
UhMaayyze has an encouraging, persuasive tone when he talks about getting his mindset right, and he’s eager to share his insights with his viewers. It’s clear that he’s drawn to coaching and teaching roles, which was a big part of what made Destiny appeal to him in the first place.
Freestyling and gaming in destiny 2 pic.twitter.com/k99RxQ1Yys
— Uhmaayyze (@uhmaayyze) November 16, 2021
“What really drove me in a lot more was meeting communities, because I was just used to playing with my friends from work. I didn’t really branch out to talk to a lot of other people,” he says. His friends introduced him to raids, and something clicked – he wanted to learn the raid, and help others learn it, too. He found some Looking For Group communities and enthusiastically offered his services as a Destiny ‘sherpa’.
“I was always the one coming in very, very hype, out of my mind,” UhMaayyze recalls with a laugh. He says while fireteam members groused about which gear they needed, he would tell them, “you don’t need that, man, you need your mindset!”
Once Destiny 2 came out, he says, he shifted away from the helper role he’d taken on in the first game. He played with groups and talked with people. “I’ve realised that I’m a very big talker,” he says. “And I love getting to know people, whether they’re new or old, as my main mission – trying to get to know you as a person.”
That focus on others and their state of mind has made this year’s revelations about toxic work environments at game development studios difficult for UhMaayyze, as someone trying to balance a developing streaming career with another full-time job. Recent reporting by IGN about Bungie’s own struggles with toxic workplace culture were particularly disappointing.
“When I saw the Bungie take, that one sort of hit,” he says. The news arrived while he was streaming, and some of his fans and friends alerted him to it through direct messages and chat. UhMaayyze says he waited until his stream was over to read up on it, and while he was upset by the news, it wasn’t a complete surprise.
“I want people to enjoy themselves making games,” he says. “So I want Bungie to clean it up, stay powerful, and continue to create this amazing atmosphere that you’re trying to build. And don’t break it.”
As for himself, UhMaayyze is going to keep grinding. He says consistency is what he’s relied on when content creation starts to feel draining, or when growth hasn’t come as quickly as he’s wanted it to.
“You’re going to feel hurt, you’re going to feel pressure, you’re going to feel jealousy, you’re going to feel that you deserve more for what you’re doing,” he says. “I’m not gonna lie, man, I run into those walls all the time. But here’s how I overcome it: I just keep doing what I’m doing. That’s it. I do what I did yesterday, I’m doing it again today.”