*****Updates since we launched the Kickstarter********
WE HAVE REACHED OUR MINIMUM GOAL TO COVER THE TRAVEL EXPENSES OF PACMAN AND PESO. WE ARE THRILLED THAT PACMAN AND PESO WILL BE TRAVELLING TO NORTH KOREA (AND CHINA) BUT NOW WE HAVE THE POSSIBILITY TO ENLIST OUTSIDE PROFESSIONAL MUSIC ENGNEERS AND VIDEO PRODUCTION SPECIALISTS. PLEASE CONTRIBUTE TO THE KICKSTARTER AND HELP US TAKE THE PROJECT TO EVEN GREATER HEIGHTS!!!!!!
- DC "Mayor for Life" Marion Barry retweeted our project to his supporters
- The Washington Post featured us on the front page of the Style Section: http://wapo.st/1dqDTIX
- The Washington City Paper ran this story: http://bit.ly/1fJDwrX
- The DCist.com featured this story: http://bit.ly/16lvvuR
- Pacman and Peso were featured in the September 4 edition of The Washington Post Express and had their picture right next to RGIII
- North Korea News ran this story on our project: http://bit.ly/15EwINB
- Bloomberg News said, "The Kickstarter project by performers known as Pacman and Peso raises a tantalizing question: Is North Korea suddenly, well, cool?" http://bloom.bg/18C07lS
- Hip-Hop Wired ran this story on the Kickstarter: http://bit.ly/15IRGsw
- Ward 7 Council Member Yvette Alexander retweeted the Kickstarter to her followers.
- Ward 1 Council Member candidate Bryan Weaver tweeted the project to his supporters several times
CHECK OUT PESO'S DEBUT MUSIC VIDEO
NEW MUSIC ON PACMAN AND PESO'S SOUNDCLOUD PAGE (all rough cuts)
NEW PROMO VIDEOS
Two Gifted Kids From The Streets (But Not In The Streets)
Pacman, born and raised in the Congress Heights neighborhood in Southeast D.C., and Peso, born and raised in Landover, MD, are two gifted young artists who are fighting to improve their lives and rise above difficult circumstances. They are both extremely talented wordsmiths (and more -- check out this video of Peso doing a backflip off a 15 foot railing https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10200371334581274 ) who are dedicated to pursuing careers in music. Although just 18 and 19 years old, respectively, both Pacman and Peso have been intimately affected by poverty and violence. They have dodged bullets (literally), gone to sleep hungry, and seen loved ones die. They both got caught up in the juvenile justice system at a young age which interrupted their educations. Pacman attended Ballou High School in Southeast for two years before transferring to Luke Seymour Alternative School in Northeast where he graduated from in June 2013. Peso went to Central High School in Capitol Heights, MD but was unable to finish as his education was interrupted by legal issues. Both youths have taken blows that would cause most people to throw in the towel and resign themselves to hopelessness but Pacman and Peso have instead chosen to use their hardships as motivation.
A Fork in the Road
Pacman and Peso have managed to make it this far without giving up their positive attitudes and are still actively pursuing their musical aspirations. No longer in school and with few opportunities for productive employment, however, they are currently at a fork in the road that will probably determine where their lives go from here. They did not pursue college due to financial constraints and family duties (both have younger siblings that need guidance and support from positive male role models). Through a chance encounter earlier this year at the Congress Heights recreation center on Alabama Ave SE, Pacman met Ramsey Aburdene, a founding member of Forest Hills Tenleytown Music Group (FHTMG -- an upstart record label formed in 2013). Since then, Pacman and Peso have spent days on end at the FHTMG Recording Studio in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood in Northwest D.C. They have blown away everyone who has seen them rap, write, or freestyle. The duo has already recorded over 20 original songs and are excited about the prospect of releasing their first mixtape, 'Coming Soon,' later this year.
A Rare Opportunity
While Pacman and Peso could just release the tracks they have created on the internet and hope for the best, they understand that to be successful you have to do things the right way. This means mixing and mastering all of their work and, most importantly, creating a buzz, which is extremely difficult to achieve. Serendipity has brought about a rare opportunity for the duo to join a one-of-a-kind trip to North Korea where they will be able to shoot a music video that will showcase their talent and create a buzz for themselves.
Unfortunately, the trip will probably cost over $3,000 for travel, accommodations, food, and other expenses (the extensive itinerary is provided below). Financially supporting this project (in return for special gifts) could help Pacman and Peso travel to North Korea (as well as a visit to Beijing, China) where they will have a music video produced (shot on location in North Korea). The music video will help promote their professional quality mixtape entitled 'Coming Soon' (Pacman and Peso are 100% independent artists).
CLICK BELOW TO HEAR 4 ROUGH CUTS OFF OF PACMAN AND PESO'S DEBUT MIXTAPE ENTITLED "COMING SOON"
The Music Video
All of the equipment necessary to shoot and edit professional quality photo and video has already been purchased. Ryan Ha (http://www.comedyclubchina.com/), an experienced video producer, and Ramsey Aburdene will work with the PART production team (pa-rt.com) in the filming and production of the music video. PART, led by founder Nash Petrovic, will be joining this trip and where they will have a multimedia event joint with a group of North Koreans (look out for PART's North Korea Kickstarter project which is hopefully coming later this month).
Pacman and Peso's music video will be shot on a karaoke party bus in Pyongyang. The party bus is something Michael Basset has arranged before. Pacman and Peso will record a special track themed on their trip to North Korea to record during this excursion. The filming will be handled primarily by PART's production team (check out www.pa-rt.com for an idea of the production quality and output). Once the video is finalized in December 2013, it will appear on Noisey.com and worldstarhiphop.com as well as various other outlets (I have already been in contact with these sites and they have assured me the video can be posted if they find it to be a quality production).
Pacman and Peso's debut mixtape, 'Coming Soon,' has been 80% recorded and for the most part only needs to be mixed and mastered. This will be handled by Miguel Pena, an experienced music producer who has been working closely with FHTMG. Once the documentary and music video are completed, they will be marketed heavily to create a buzz for their first mixtape, 'Coming Soon.' The estimated release date for the music video is December 2013.
The trip to North Korea has been in the works since before Pacman and Peso linked up with FHTMG. Michael Basset (http://www.fairobserver.com/users/michael-bassett), a good friend of FHTMG co-founder Ramsey Aburdene, is one of the foremost American experts on North Korea and will be leading the trip through a partnership with Young Pioneer Tours (http://www.youngpioneertours.com/). A decorated military veteran, Michael fought in Kosovo, was injured in an IED as a tank commander in Iraq, and was stationed at the DMZ on North Korea-South Korea border for four years. During his time in South Korea, Michael fell in love with Korean culture, history, and politics (he has a 6 year old daughter who lives in Seoul). He has made it his mission in life to improve North-South relations on the Korean Peninsula through cultural diplomacy. Michael focuses on sports and the arts instead of taking a political approach. He has been on four extended visits to North Korea, most recently a three month trip earlier in 2013. There are few, if any, foreign civilians who have the connections and access that Basset has in North Korea.
The trip currently has 12 participants, most of whom have ambitious aims for the trip. Nash Petrovic, founder or PART (http://www.pa-rt.com/) has been approved for a digital media event joint with 25-50 North Koreans. Ryan Ha, founder and CEO of Comedy Club China, will be shooting a lighthearted segment for his comedy club (http://www.comedyclubchina.com/). Kevin Smith, a tech reporter at Business Insider, will be writing articles focusing on civilian technology in North Korea (http://www.businessinsider.com/author/kevin-smith).
This trip will be a fantastic opportunity for Pacman and Peso to meet young, dynamic people and significantly broaden their horizons in addition to jump starting their musical careers.
The cost of the trip is $2,000 plus a plane ticket to Beijing (around $1,250-$1,750). The trip is mostly all inclusive but Michael has told each person to budget $3,500 for additional and unexpected expenditures. The paperwork is all ready to go -- now Pacman and Peso just need a plane ticket and payment to Young Pioneer Tours (which can be made until three days before the trip begins on October 21).
NORTH KOREA ULTIMATE CUSTOM TOUR:
11/21 - Arrive Pyongyang, meet your North Korean guides, Check in at Sosan Hotel, Arch of Triumph, Grand Monument Statues, Juche Tower, relax at the hotel's microbrew bar/recreational facilities
11/22 - People’s Grand Monument Statues, Mausoleum to see Kim Il Sung and Kim Jung Il’s sarcophagi, Children’s Palace Performance, Pyongyang Fun Fair Amusement Park.
11/23 - Boat ride across the Taedong, Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum (guided by war vet), Boat restaurant, USS Pueblo (guided by a naval commander who (seized?) the ship), Duck OR Lamb BBQ, Paradise Brewery Bar
11/24 - Kang Bang Suk Middle School Performance, Pyongyang Metro & Metro Museum, Gun Range (Hen Hunt), Music and Dance Conservatory cultural show -circus/opera, Chicken and Watermelon Dinner (chicken from gun range), Kereoke Party Bus – Pyongyang at Night City Bus Tour.
11/25 -Mansudae Art Studio, Mt. Myohang Korean Friendship Exhibition, Pyongyang Island Fun Fair, and Diplomat’s Club.
11/26 - Kim Il Sung Square walk, Viennese Coffee Shop, Basketball Match OR Korea Central Art Gallery, Outdoor Picnic with locals, drive to Kaesong SEZ, Kaesong SEZ Fun Fair, Kim Il Sung Hill statue and stamp shop, overnight folk hotel, optional dog meet dinner.
11/27 - DMZ tour (Panmunjeom, DPRK), DMZ Observation Wall (no mans land), DPRK Film Studio’s, Sunjuk Bridge, return Pyongyang - check in at Koryo Hotel, Three Revolutions Exhibition, Pizza Restaurant, (“P-ART NK” multimedia event and video?).
11/28 - Charter Flight Chongjin, lunch at Fisherman’s Club, Kim Il Sung Statue, Electronics Library, City Map of Renovation Plan, Steelworks Kindergarten School Performance. Dinner, sauna, bar and pool at Fisherman’s Club.
11/29 - Kyongsong Revolutionary Museum, Hot Spa Medical Treatment, Kyongsong seafood lunch, drive to Mt. Chilbo Home Stay*, tour, Chilbo Beach volleyball, campfire with locals. Note- Due to historical/local cultural reasons, Americans are only allowed to stay at the Outer Chilbo hotel, 20 mi. Drive away, others can stay with a family at the home stay,
11/30 - Chilbo Beach swimming and boating, Hiking Mt Chilbo, return Chongjin via Yombun Revolutionary Site. Overnight Chongjin
12/1 - **Drive to Hyeryong city (2 hours)- Population 140,000, This city is famous for White Apricots, Ceramics and beautiful girls! It’s also the birthplace of President Kim Il Sung’s “revolutionary hero” wife, Kim Jong Suk. Visit Kim Jong Suk Statue. Kim Jong Suk birthplace and historical lecture from the expert local guide. Hyeryong Local Library, Hyeryong Middle School.
12/2 - Stop in Onsong County to see the Grand Monument at Mt. Wangjae and the Revolutionary Museum. Depart the DPRK with a stamp in your passport via some friendly but amazingly thorough DPRK customs officials. Walk the bridge into Tuman with a stop the very relaxed but also extremely curious Chinese customs.
Risks and challenges
"WILL YOU ACTUALLY BE ABLE TO PRODUCE A MUSIC VIDEO IN NORTH KOREA"
Many people think it is just not feasible to shoot a rap music video in North Korea. This would be true if we were just going in with no plan. On the contrary, however, every aspect of the trip has been planned well in advance. Michael Basset (http://www.fairobserver.com/users/michael-bassett) has established himself as an actor in North Korean affairs with a focus on cultural diplomacy. He has organized events with music, dance, and sports previously in North Korea before and knows the appropriate parties to coordinate with to organize or get clearances for such events. Michael has published thousands of photos he took in North Korea and written extensively on his experiences. As far as the actual filming and production, that is also covered A-Z. Ryan Ha, Ramsey Aburdene, and the PART production team will work diligently to produce a professional quality output.
As this is pretty much an unprecedented project, there is always a possibility, perhaps even a likelihood, of unexpected problems (logistically or otherwise). We are doing everything in our power to iron out all of the details ahead of time with the appropriate parties in North Korea. If for whatever reason we are unable to shoot the music video as we planned (maybe the North Koreans decide they do not want to allow it at the last minute), we plan on shooting a music video in Beijing, China where we will stay for three days before traveling to North Korea.
"IT IS DANGEROUS"
The first thing most people say when they hear about the trip is "isn't it dangerous?" People seem to think there is a very real chance we get arrested and sent to work in one of the infamous North Korean prison camps. On the contrary, this trip is not dangerous at all relative to other international travel destinations. Every aspect of the trip is completely legal from the perspective of both the American and North Korean governments (over 2,000 Americans visit North Korea annually). Every part of the itinerary has been fully approved by the appropriate authorities in North Korea. And if there is anybody you want to lead a trip to North Korea, it is Michael Basset.
"NORTH KOREA IS A BAD PLACE"
Another issue that often comes up when I discuss this trip with people is that North Korea is a repressive state with prison camps, a starving population, and other human rights issues. My reply is that this is a 100% civilian trip attended by people of various nationalities that in no way endorses any government, policy, ideology, etc. Everybody on the trip is strongly against human rights violations anywhere in the world but unfortunately it is difficult to know the extent of human rights violations in North Korea due to its isolation. If anything, our trip will promote positive interactions between North Korea and the international community and help to ease tensions, which is sorely needed before any type of political solutions can hope to be reached.
"DO PACMAN AND PESO HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BE SUCCESSFUL?"
In one word, yes.
Pacman and Peso have impressed everybody who has seen them work with their passion and focus. They have had recording sessions that have lasted three days and straight that produced over ten quality songs. They are open to constructive criticism and suggestions and eagerly embrace anything that they think will help further their musical careers. Pacman and Peso have expressed keen interest in eventually resuming their formal educations and getting into business. This trip will strongly push them further down the path towards growth and success.
"DO YOU REALLY THINK THIS WILL CATCH ON?"
Creating a buzz for musical artists is very challenging but we believe we can accomplish it. First and foremost, Pacman and Peso are gifted and have the determination to make it. Given the one-of-a-kind nature of this project, we are confident we can get people's attention. FHTMG will aggressively promote the documentary and music video to media outlets. The mixtape will be released on internationally known websites (livemixtapes.com and datpiff.com)
- (30 days)