Kim Jong Illin'
It can be tough to stand out in today’s rap scene. That’s why on a night in late November, a karaoke party bus will glide through the broad thoroughfares of Pyongyang. Inside, two up and coming rappers will be busy producing the first music video ever shot by Americans in North Korea, skyrocketing them to fame and fortune.
At least, that’s the plan for Southeast D.C.’s previously unheard of Pacman and Peso and their crew at Forest Hills Tenleytown Music Group (FHTMG). The full pitch for the project can be found on FHTMG’s Kickstarter page, but the idea is pretty simple: raise $6,000 from online supporters to put Pacman and Peso on a plane. Grab a party bus in Pyongyang. Shoot a rap MV. Profit.
Sounds like a ludicrously misguided publicity stunt, right? Thing is, it seems to actually be working. WAPO bit on the story and wrote up Pacman and Peso in a long feature, Councilmember Marion Barry retweeted the project, and as of the 19th, FHTMG has gone well over their desired $6,000 ask from Kickstarter supporters. On the logistics side, FHTMG producer Ramsey Aburdene happens to be buddies with Michael Basset, fellow North Korea watcher, cultural diplomat, and NK Witness reader (hi Michael), who in conjunction with Young Pioneer Tours is using his DPRK connections to make this shoot happen.
That all being said, I’ve still got my doubts about whether this goes down. Despite filming and production being “covered A-Z”, there isn't much to stop a DPRK official from scuttling the project on a whim. FHTMG seems to be well aware of this, as they have a backup plan to shoot the video in Beijing instead.
So, worst case scenario the plan falls apart. Medium case, a couple young guys from Southeast who've never been further than Jersey get a free trip to North Korea on an “Ultimate Custom” tour package (apparently they get to hunt hens at a shooting range?). Best case, who knows, they produce something that propels them beyond 15 minutes of fame (link to their tracks here to decide for yourself if they have what it takes). Heck, even if the rap game doesn't work out, I think Peso could get a spot on the North Korean gymnastics team…