In this crazy world we live in no one truly knows the path that their life will take. Successful people must be open to the opportunities that present themselves and be willing to pursue them as far as they will go. Our recent discovery Pierce and his startup Academy Entertainment Group is the perfect example of someone who grabs life by the horns.
The rising hip hop artist was a football star at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania just freestyling for fun after practice. He got better and better and people started taking notice. A mixtape was cut and streams started accumulating rapidly. Pierce knew he was on to something.
Since then he has picked up and moved to Nottingham University in the UK to play football and started up Academy Entertainment Group (AEG) to share more music with the world.
On “Visions Of A Rockstar” Pierce shows off his amazing ability to just flow. The man is a master of words and creating imagery in his lyrics. The simple beat sets the tone as he creates the story.
Pierce worked with producer Scott Lasher on “Up”. The beat is deeper and will get heads bopping almost immediately. The vocal style is more deliberate. The attack and release style grabs attention and brings the listener into the picture.
We had a chance to sit down with the rising star and get into his plans and how it is all coming together. Enjoy the interview here:
Tell us about the beginnings of Academy Entertainment Group?
Academy Entertainment Group is a record label that my best friends and I started. It wasn’t officially formed until September 2017 but the concept was formed around February 2016. We had all been talking about how we wanted to try to start a business together, rather than work a traditional job after college. In high school, we all had made music for fun, but it was never our plan to pursue a career in music. Pierce, Jonny, and Scott were who I originally started the label with and they all went to Caravel Academy with me, which later would give us inspiration for the name and image of the label. We always joked about being good enough to make it as rappers but we never were serious and it always was just a hobby to us. We all went to a small college prep private school and we just thought that music wasn’t a realistic pursuit given our background. Pierce and I both had an interest in pursuing the NFL and had interest from a number of division one colleges, so football was our path at that time. I first got the idea that I would try to pursue music as a backup plan during my freshman year.
I always kind of had the idea that I wanted to try music if football didn’t work out but it didn’t start to manifest itself until I went to college. During our Freshman year, Scott had started making beats around this time and that really inspired me to want to rap. I started working on a mixtape my sophomore year but never finished it as I had trouble figuring out what type of content my music should have. Then I spent most of college trying to slowly convince everyone that it would be worth pursuing music as an actual career path but I had to figure out how to propose this properly. It wasn’t till the end of junior year when I thought of the idea for the label. This was a time when everybody in school had been getting internships and committing to their career path. I knew 100% that I wanted to pursue music at this point, as a back injury and surgery dissuaded me from wanting to pursue the NFL anymore. I knew if I wanted everyone to fully buy in that I would need to think of a startup business idea, within the music industry itself, to pitch to my friends. I really sat up in my bed one night and thought as hard as I could about every aspect of the music industry to figure out what business would be best for us to start and a record label is what immediately came to my head. I figured Pierce and Derek would be perfect first two artists for the label. Pierce had always been the best rapper in our group and Derek’s vibe was just so unique. They had been posting instagram videos with Derek playing guitar and singing and Pierce rapping over it. It was such a unique and organic sound, and I thought that everybody would love this if they heard it. I remember I was so excited when I thought of it, it just felt like what was right for me. At that point, I truly had found my life’s purpose. I immediately googled “how to start a record label,” in basic beginner fashion, then went and told one my roommates who kind of looked at me like I was crazy but then encouraged me to give it a shot. I immediately made moves on trying to put the dream team together. I immediately called everybody one by one and asked if they’d be down to help.
I had to call Pierce and Derek first because they were going to be the first two artists and without any artists, there is no label. They were living in the frat house together at the time so when I called Pierce I got to talk to both of them at the same time about it and they were both immediately down. I then called Scott and asked if he’d produce beats for the label. Then I called Jonny and asked if he’d want to help with the business side of things. My original plan was to start the label that summer after my junior year and to have Pierce drop a mixtape during the fall semester of senior year, while we were in school. But one thing I’ve learned about the music game is that nothing ever happens as soon as you’d hope for it to happen. I decided it wouldn’t be smart to start the label until we actually had some music done and It took almost a year to get everyone in the studio and to get things actually going. I finally got everybody to get into the studio during winter break of our senior year and we started working on a mixtape for Pierce, which we would later name “The Cookout,” with inspiration from the college day parties that they have at Lehigh University where the fraternities would host these cookouts with alcohol for other students. We dropped the mixtape in April with very low expectations, hoping to get maybe a couple hundred plays if we were lucky. Within the first week of release, the mixtape had garnered over 7,000 plays just on SoundCloud for the mixtape and continued climbing afterward. We received crazy positive feedback and everyone just told us to keep going. We were all surprised with how well it did and it created buzz at all of our colleges and in our home state of Delaware which is close to Philly, so the buzz kind of trickled into Philly naturally.
That really became the turning point that really motivated us to keep going and I remember hearing random people on campus listening to the songs on their own and I was shocked. I finally felt comfortable to start the label that we had planned to over a year prior. So we started making moves on that in the summer. While this whole process of recording and releasing “The Cookout” was going on, Pierce, Derek and myself were offered the opportunity to attend the University of Nottingham in the U.K. for grad school on an American football scholarship. Me, Pierce, Derek agreed to go to grad school and their teammate LaQuan also agreed to come to do the program and would later join us on the label. After the release of “The Cookout” we officially incorporated the label and prepared to study abroad for grad school. In the United Kingdom, we continued to promote Pierce’s music, release singles, balance school and play American football. We are still in the process of finishing our master’s degree but have been able to rapidly expand our following out in England. So far we’ve gained a huge following in the United Kingdom from our YouTube series, which garnered over 100 subscribers in the first week, got a website up and running, started selling merchandise, had a few performances and we’ve even received invites to open up for the likes of Teka$hi 6ix9ine, Jay Critch, and Lil Pump. Some of the house parties we threw in the U.K. helped us to grow our following. As of now, we are done with class and football but we are working to finish up our dissertation and cooking up some more music!
How would you describe the style of music you are making?
We each really have our own unique sound and style. Pierce is more lyrical and punchy with his delivery. He’s great with the metaphors and a lot of people compare him to Drake. Derek is unlike any other artist I’ve ever seen, he plays guitar, he sings, his hairstyle is also definitely unique and would even make most women jealous. He raps, he sings, he produces, he plays the guitar, there’s not much he can’t do. As for sound, the closest comparison I could think of would be Miguel, and even so, he’s way different than him. As a unit, we were originally influenced by American style Hip-Hop but have been recently been influenced by the Grime and Afro music in the U.K. so we have been experimenting and playing around with some new vibes. Our sound is definitely evolving and we’re all excited to see where this next music takes us.
Which artists have influenced your sound?
We all really idolize artists such as Notorious B.I.G., Drake, Lil Wayne, Eminem, Jay-Z, J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar. We all draw inspirations from those who not only can paint pictures with vivid lyrics but can also deliver catchy hooks with catchy delivery.
What has it been like building a team of like minds in the hip-hop game?
It’s been amazing just being able to build this business with my actual best friends. We didn’t just meet through music, we were all friends before music was even a thought, and would have been best friends regardless of whether we pursued music as a career or not. We’ve made music together since high school but just never took it seriously or planned on pursuing it as a career. Now that we’ve actually made a business out of the whole thing, it had been rewarding to see each other’s unique skills and passions come out in the form of creating original music and performing it. It’s also beautiful to just build something and see it grow from the ground up. It really has been a rewarding experience.
Tell us about your songwriting process. How does a track come together for Pierce and AEG?
Pierce writes all of his own music, however music is a real collaborative process and we all constantly share ideas and concepts with each other. We always push ourselves to improve upon the quality of our creations. The music comes pretty naturally, especially for Pierce, but we always take a lot of time working on the small details making sure every little sound is perfect. Early on in our career, we were in such a rush to get music out but now we’ve matured in the process and we just take our time with it and make sure that everything’s perfect.
What advice would you give to other artists trying to build a brand?
I would say first and foremost to build a team. The music business is one that takes a lot of time and effort to understand and build a successful career in, so take your time and make sure everything is done right. Your image is everything and it takes awhile just to get music done, alongside promoting it and performing it. Don’t be in a rush to drop music when you’re not ready and watch how you move at all times. Also always remember that your impact may always go deeper than the music so be careful with your words that can be used as weapons or tools, so choose wisely.
What is next for Academy Entertainment Group?
Our next step is to finish up with our degree and go back to the states and pick back up where we left off which was doing shows in the Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Delaware areas. We also plan to do a few more shows in the United Kingdom before we finish up school. We have a ton of opportunities to open up for larger headline artists and that’s what we plan on getting into once we get back.
This is a man on a mission and with his work ethic we have no doubt success will continue to find him. Keep your eyes and ears on him at www.aegmovement.com