Recently, Chicago rapper Sterling Hayes was ready to retire. At 28, after over a decade making music alongside SaveMoney, his talented group of friends that have held sway over their hometown since around 2011. After losing money on a couple projects and with a daughter on the way, he was at a point in life where going to school and working a job seemed the right route. So he did. In the last year and a half Hayes has built a life for himself got married and has a child who’s birth is any day now. Despite the success in his personal life, he had an itch to get back to the music and was encouraged by artists like Peter CottonTale who urged him to get back into it. After blistering writing sessions and self-discovery, the result is Beam Scale, a 12-track collection that speaks to the passion behind Hayes here. You can feel the hunger and the ups and the downs and he wears it loosely on his sleeve. To get a better sense of the project itself and what went into it we sat down with Sterling to find out more. Check out our Q&A and the full project streaming below.
Congrats on your new child. How excited are you to bring another Hayes into the world?
I am excited, super excited. I feel like at my age I have accomplished a lot of things and this is something that is new. I’ve traveled the world, met some of my idols, lived a pretty abnormal life and this was humbling and pretty exciting. Just having my own family is very important and very exciting.
It’s been a minute since we got a full project from you. What’s going on with this current one? Is it something that was made in 2020 or something you have held onto throughout the years?
I made this project in about 6 months. My last project was about two years old. I basically stopped making music and went back to school and went corporate. I wanted to go back and do school and try that out especially so I don’t feel like I’m putting all my eggs in one basket, since it’s pretty hard to really make money in the music industry. Like I’ve put thousands of dollars into my career and it took 7 years to make my investment back. I didn’t want to do that again, everything I’ve been doing I’ve been planning for years. I didn’t think everything would happen this quickly.
Where did you graduate from? How did school and working affect music?
Rasmussen University for business marketing. I got some other small degrees and trades and stuff. I got jobs that I didn’t hate, I’m pretty much working with my friends. I got so used to being in the crib and being a family man during quarantine that I didn’t think that much about music, I thought the pandemic would last like 5 years and we wouldn’t be at the point that we are currently at now. When the world opened back up my wife was already pregnant and I thought it would be irresponsible for me to go out and spend all the money on an investment that took so long to return.
You’re lucky to have a lot of friends in the similar situation as you. Did you get a lot of advice from those guys?
Yeah definitely some fatherhood advice. Me and chance are the only ones of the guys who are currently married so we definitely vibe that way and def had some baby advice, and I needed advice because I have made money in music but it just wasn’t fast enough and I felt like it would be irresponsible for me as a man to say this money I’ve got for my baby is going to studio time. Peter Cottontale convinced me that I can’t stop making music. I never told him it was a money issue. I just said I’m ready to go corporate and I’m still gone, be whatever just as a corporate dude. That’s why I did business marketing. I still wanted to be in the industry and still have an impact on the culture and be a part of it. But I realized I enjoy being in the studio much more than the executive aspect of the industry. Cottontale didn’t want me to quit making music so I said let’s make an album together. I need this to for sure to be my best project to date. I didn’t think I would be able to top the last album. I wrote songs for the album quickly and then put on finishing touches. What took time is getting all the features and collaborations done, but the concept and songs came pretty quickly. I had two or three years to think about what I was going to rap about. Even the first song was about me coming out of retirement like I’m not going to retire no more. Hearing it was a huge boost in confidence, kind of like my Michael Jordan moment. My previous projects were really just me and Diego. I never really asked for help. Whoever was on the team is who I was working with. I was doing it completely wrong when I should have been like I need this feature, I need these beats, I need to show people I’m really serious about this shit. This is my most feature heavy project, everyone I wanted to collab with I got on there.
Now that it’s done and you’re almost ready to put it out, what are your expectations? What do you want people to take from this tape and know about you?
I really want people to know this is like a series. When I posted the track list I kinda made a few paragraphs about everything. I love art in general like movies, video games, everything. I don’t want anyone to even listen to this without listening to the other projects too. Think of it like a video game like halo 8, some people pick up the game and think do I need to play the other games first. For me, yes people need to listen to the other projects before listening to my latest one. I just want people to watch the series and just like in TV shows as I get older I want people to see the growth as I’ve gotten older. My whole experience as a human in Chicago living in the United States is all there. This is the most progress I’ve made not only as an artist but also as a man.
Did wanting to make your projects like a series make you want to return to music and finish?
Nah I don’t know what brought me back man, it was the guys telling me absolutely not. I went back and listened to that shit and I was like wow this is cold. I just invested so much money into it initially. It more was a confidence booster, and having Peter who is a Grammy award winner and genius having him co-signing and telling me I can’t quit shows that they saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself at the time.
So now that you have your foot back in are the plans just to put your foot down on the gas and keep moving with it?
Oh yeah, pedal to the metal for sure.