It was just four years ago when two southeast D.C. rap stars Pacman and Peso sat were planning an unprecedented trip to North Korea to film a hip-hop music video.
The song and video, “Escape to North Korea,” was a hit on iTunes and the two appeared to be raising their international appeal one step at a time.
“Everyone thought we were going [to North Korea] for some type of political thing,” Peso said. “They even thought the song was political, but I put my own little swag on it to say that there is no difference between North Korea and where I stay at.”
Today, the pair, who has worked with D.C. producers DB Bantino and DJ Vega, are still taking it one step at a time. In Peso’s case, the young artist hopes he’ll literally be able to walk again.
In a heart-stopping national interview with CGTN America, Peso, who raps that it could be safer in North Korea than in his own neighborhood, revealed he’s recovering after being shot four times back home in Southeast in 2016.
He raps, “They say it’s dangerous, well my streets be a hell zone.”
While he doesn’t talk much about the details of the shooting, Peso now relies on a wheelchair and the support of his friends.
“I ain’t gonna lie, I lost myself for a minute,” Peso recently told CGTN America while sitting in his wheelchair, waiting for his production team to arrive for a recording session in Anacostia. “It was about eight months. … I even stopped listening to music for a couple months. I stopped doing things I would do for a couple months.”
His eyes filled with tears as he recorded a new song in a basement studio, CGTN America reported.
“What if the performance you’re at was a movie? But cameras don’t shoot bullets in the movies. Don’t live my life like you live in a movie. Don’t know what’s real or what’s fake in a movie. It’s gonna be over, gonna end like a movie,” he rhymes over a looping beat.
Pacman and Peso still think about their journey to the DPRK and the attention it brought them. Despite Peso’s hardships, he said his unlikely trip to Pyongyang still inspires him.
“I was basically living the dream I always wanted to live,” he told the station. “It changed my life big time because I was doing something different than being on the streets doing something totally wrong. It got my mind set on doing something bigger than this. Living my life on the streets.”
Pacman and Peso hope more people will discover their music and experience it firsthand, just as they hope more Americans can travel to the DPRK and see the country firsthand like they have.
In the pair’s recent interview with The Informer, Pacman touched on what they hoped is a promising future — one they’re still pursuing.
“I always loved hip-hop, but I started rapping seriously in middle school,” he said. “I was doing different things with different people on the local music scene but none of it ever came together like it was supposed to until now.”
When asked about the then-upcoming trip to North Korea, Peso expressed enthusiasm and said it was a chance to prove doubters and haters wrong.
“We didn’t know it would be this big of a deal, but the response has been crazy,” he said. “There were a lot of naysayers and people who said we couldn’t do it, so it feels good to prove them wrong.”