Ocean State of mind

PVD wordsmith Hayes drops anchor with a new album
By CHRIS CONTI  |  November 6, 2013

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TRUTH AND DECAY Hayes takes it outside.
Local music fans have been blessed with a full slate of quality Rhody-based rap platters throughout 2013, and the latest arrives courtesy of Providence wordsmith Hayes, who just dropped his full-length solo debut, u.s. A Cry for Help. Lighthearted, back-in-the-day bars, and straight talk about America’s ills mingle throughout (mass consumerism is in his crosshairs). The album is co-signed by local rhyme heroes Milez Grimez and living legend Swann Notty, along with production by 8th Wundah, and Hayes has enlisted a serious wealth of area rap talent to help celebrate the album release this Friday, including DirtyDurdie and Meta P.

Sean Hayes was born in Connecticut and relocated to Rhode Island “to become a student loan victim,” he cracked when he checked in to plug the new album. East Coast lyricists like Nas and Big L first sparked his gift for gab.

“I’ve been writing my entire life, but I finally started to put a voice to my chicken scratch rhymes in 2006,” Hayes said.

Though this is his first official solo release, Hayes has been on the scene since ’09 as a founding member of the Night Enders (crew members Spoons and Hans are featured on the new album), which dropped a debut album last year titled Island of the Misfit Toys.

Hayes may have an affinity for slugging ’Gansetts and having fun with his team but, as the album title implies, he slings conscious rhymes intended to rouse the sheep.

“I wanted to make an album that had some depth and meaning,” he said. “I like to refer to most of the music on the radio as ‘washed-up-and-comers,’ it’s just so disposable and has no real substance.

“I believe it was [Austrian journalist/author] Ernst Fischer who said, ‘In a decaying society, art, if it is truthful, must also reflect decay.’ At the risk of sounding vain, that’s what I tried to do,” Hayes told me.

The messages are neither heavy-handed nor lost in the mix of eclectic beats, with six of the 12 cuts produced by multi-talented rapper/producer/MPC maestro 8th Wundah (and mastered by Vertygo at Beatbox Studio in Pawtucket). The intro gives way to the standout track “You Only Die Always (YODA),” a cynical spin on the YOLO lifestyle, as Hayes dishes the lines, “My liver loves booze that’s why my organs hurt/ A river runs through it takin’ morbid turns” and “Knock knockin’ on heaven’s door reverts from cradles to graves and storks to urns.” Spoons and Hans join in on “Never Remember,” and Hayes addresses drunk driving on “Wheels On the Bus.” A line from “Mindfully Half Empty” reminds us that this is “a PSA to the land of the free fast-asleep.”

Hayes is “dropping more stories than Tower of Terror” on “Stress Positions,” and acknowledges the pain of dealing with his parents’ divorce as a child on “American Adolescent.” Hayes gets some all-star support from Milez Grimez, Swann Notty, 8th, and Spoons on “Lack of a Better Word,” and the first single “Ocean State of the Art” is yet another locally sourced jam (see “401 Island of Rhodes” by Grimez and Meta P’s “RI Reds”), with Spoons, Hayes and 8th shouting out Del’s, Rocky Point, Colt State Park, and weed dispensaries: “One minute it’s sunny, the next is damn showers/ A place where Narragansetts flow like clam chowder/The road to success has few a potholes/Throw your hands up, and anchors — drop those.”

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