In February 5th, 2013, Denver MC Marcus "Arrilius" Hayes passed away. He left two-thirds of a trilogy of albums unfinished, and producer David "Fat Trak" Williams has spent the last year and a half putting together the pieces. Part two -- The Meditations of Marcus Arrilius -- is the first posthumous release featuring Hayes's voice, and it's now available via iTunes and elsewhere.
Williams calls Hayes a brother. It's not a title he uses lightly; in fact, Williams is an identical twin. It was his twin, Daniel, who introduced him to Hayes. "Marcus changed my life," Williams says. "He changed me from just a beat-maker to a producer."
Hayes and Williams set out a couple of years ago to create the trilogy, which was to comprise The Rise of Marcus Arrilius, The Meditations of Marcus Arrilius and The Infamous Revenge of Marcus Arrilius. The first installment dropped in August 2012, and when Hayes died, Fat Trak was determined to continue the series. He sat down with fellow artists to plan their approach to finishing the other two albums, for which Hayes had only partially completed his recorded parts. "We went through the whole album, and at first some people wanted to leave [those] songs off the album," says Williams. "But to me, I wanted to have what Marcus and I had spoken on."
To help complete the project, Williams looked to fellow producer Justin "Ty Law" Meade, who had done some work on the trilogy. "He put all the money up front for the artwork and videos," Hayes says of Meade. "And with the help of Marcus's wife, we were able to get them printed."
Mike Jones helped Williams mix and master all the songs. Williams also credits DJ Low Key, who hosted the release party for the album last week, with helping to spread the word about the new music. "Low Key approached me at the funeral and said, 'Anything you need, I got you,'" says Williams.
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The first video from Meditations, for "All the Time to Try," came out three weeks ago and features unreleased footage of Hayes in a jovial mood with friends and family. Williams's grandiose beat contrasts with the somber tone of the song. Hayes's social commentary pulls at the listener's emotions. It's hard to listen to, especially knowing that the remarkable pairing of MC and producer that created it will be limited to these three albums.
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As an MC, Hayes was known as "the General" and served as a leader to the people around him.
"He really kept us all in our lanes. He made me better as a producer, [but] if you rapped, he made sure you focused on that," says Williams. "He really kept us together."
Hayes was a leader and inspiration to many in Denver's hip-hop scene, particularly his fellow members in the Welcome to the D.O.P.E. Game collective. One of that group's leaders, Turner Jackson, remembers Hayes as a guiding light for his art. Infamous Jones, also of the D.O.P.E. Game, echoes that sentiment. "If he were here, he would be very proud of how far we have come," says Jones.