Chicago rapper Sterling Hayes travels down his own unusual path on Flirting With Death | Music Review | Chicago Reader

Music » Music Review

Chicago rapper Sterling Hayes travels down his own unusual path on Flirting With Death



Four years ago, Save Money rapper Sterling Hayes dropped his debut mixtape, Antidepressant, which foreshadowed the wave of Soundcloud rappers who’ve peppered their rhymes with intimate disclosures of their struggles with mental health issues. But that’s not to say that Hayes has much in common with those MCs, or with any scene around town either. On his forthcoming album, Flirting With Death (Create Music Group), he unloads diaristic raps that sometimes thrash against the beat or refuse to conform to a discernible rhyme scheme—he bends every line to the vagaries of his emotions, which makes for some engrossing passages. Hayes punches up his tracks even further by enlisting some of his Chicago friends, including R&B singer the Mind, fellow Save Money MC Brian Fresco, and ace-in-the-hole rappers Vic Spencer and Tree. But when Hayes gives himself room to roam—he’s alone atop the unstable synth and minimal percussion of “Offspring,” with no guest vocalists—he proves he’s got the grit to flourish all by himself, on his own idiosyncratic path.   v

Get our free weekly Early Warnings newsletter 💌

It’s Chicago’s essential months-ahead music calendar straight to your inbox.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →