These 30 rock
The 30 Columbians
Ray Pierce was in a good place. He was a year and a half away from graduating college, and he felt like things were in position to take off with his music. Then his older brother died from cancer, and his entire life paused with the devastation.
But instead of stopping forever, Pierce channeled this energy.
“When my brother passed, I got on this huge kick of tomorrow not being promised,” he says. “So I rapped harder, and I just went through life stronger.”
He put this motivation into his second full-length CD, The Last Man Standing, released in April under his rap name of Steddy P. Much of the hip-hop to come out of the Midwest has been criticized for being simple or formulaic. This album challenges these accusations by dealing with socially relevant subjects, including politics and the death of his brother.
The 2006 MU graduate also co-founded IndyGround Entertainment with longtime friend Andy Price. The two formed the company in 2005 to create an outlet for local emcees and artists to distribute their work. In just two years, IndyGround has released four full-length albums and is now embarking on its first large-scale tour, which will go as far north as Minnesota. And Pierce’s music has developed a diverse local fanbase. Sean Canan, lead guitarist for local rock band Bockman, says there is something about his music that goes beyond just one genre of fans.
“He has more energy than a ton of rock bands I’ve seen up there,” Canan says. “And some of the things he does lyrically are just insane.”
Pierce’s status as a rapper doesn’t keep him in a rut, says Peter McDevitt, who books shows at The Blue Note. “Steddy hasn’t let himself be pigeon-holed into simply being a performer at Sapphire Lounge,” McDevitt says. “He has shown through his drive and determination that he wants to take his music to anywhere that there is an audience willing to hear it.”