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Balboa (Track #5 of Lit Hop): 10 Days of Process/Promotion, Feb. 25—March 6, 2014

March 7, 2014

I reconnected with elementary school friends to release a song called “Balboa.” Below are the 10 Days of Process/Promotion I did on Facebook to pay tribute to the “players” on the track. 

DAY 1 (February 25, 2014):

balboa day 1

I had the best time working on a song called “Balboa.” (Day 1 of 10)

http://youtu.be/Rp2qTVbYhlU

Had the best time attending this school. In a place called “Balboa” we elementary-school kids discovered music & literature, learned to love poetry & play. Socco plus square-dancing snuck in there too. But over the years, a lot of us simply lost touch, as life so demands. Busy making plans.

“Balboa” reunites 8 grade-school friends in a hip hop flurry of samples, singing, pizzicato, & signature phrases. We’ll be promoting the song for 10 days straight, introducing original artwork to viewers/listeners on Days 2 through 8. But don’t worry, your News Feeds will be happy. 

For Track #5 of Lit Hop, I really wanted to use an #ArtFirst, process-based approach, from the first note to the classmate communication to the last promotion. In other words, these posts will try to add value, or beauty, or at least a modicum of fun. That’s our intention.

And now to the “our”: Special thanks to the other 7 Balboaites on this track: Dameius D CooleyNicole Yaro-GoodGaleet DardashtiSandy Margulies GoldfarbJenny Chew-MitchellWendy Doling, and Jay W. Lee. A big shout out to visual artist Erie Chang and engineer/3-D animator Jeff Kyle. Much respect to The Last Ancients‘ Beatsmith Medore (co-producer) for treating me like fam. And for all the lit heads in the crowd, bound for Seattle—AWP…

…Away We Play,
Jamez

DAY 2 (February 26, 2014):

Dameius D. Cooley

“On a Ship to Balboa” by Erie Chang & Jamez Chang © Erie Chang 2014

If Biggie Smalls were alive today, he’d sound like this. Dameius D Cooley at 2:04, on a track called “Balboa.” (Day 2 of 10)

http://youtu.be/Rp2qTVbYhlU

* Paying my respects to Dameius today (still livin), who had the charisma, kindness & attitude that I’ve tried to channel through the years.

“ON A SHIP TO BALBOA” – The first of seven commemorative art pieces, with the theme of children’s/YA book covers. Designed by Jamez; painted by Erie Chang.

#BalboaSong
#DameiusMuchRespect
#ArtFirst
#BeatsmithLivin
#TheLastAncients

DAY 3 (February 27, 2014):

Nicole Yaro-Good

“Painting with My Hands” by Erie Chang & Jamez Chang © Erie Chang 2014

Nicole Yaro-Good was one of the few kids who could stand in front of the classroom, grab your attention, then sustain it. The girl had presence. Still has it. So glad her voice graces the chorus-hook, on a track called “Balboa.” (Day 3 of 10)

http://youtu.be/Rp2qTVbYhlU

* Paying my respects to Nicci today, whose bold attitude and rich voice got even better over the years.

“PAINTING WITH MY HANDS” – The second of seven commemorative art pieces, with the theme of children’s/YA book covers. Designed by Jamez; painted by Erie Chang.

#BalboaSong
#NicciMuchRespect
#ArtFirst
#BeatsmithLivin
#TheLastAncients

DAY 4 (February 28, 2014):

Galeet Dardashti

“Silver Buttons” by Erie Chang & Jamez Chang © Erie Chang 2014

Galeet Dardashti entered Balboa in the 4th grade, but by the time she left, it felt like she’d been with us all along. We knew she had a great voice, but who could’ve predicted Galeet would be touring the world, releasing albums, bridging cultural gaps, and teaching courses at NYU. Smart kid then. Brilliant now. Check out her singing on a track called “Balboa.” (Day 4 of 10).

http://youtu.be/Rp2qTVbYhlU

* Paying my respects to Galeet today, who draws inspiration from the musical & cultural landscapes of the Middle East, highlighting unsung Biblical women who lived there.

“SILVER BUTTONS” – The third of seven commemorative art pieces, with the theme of children’s/YA book covers. Designed by Jamez; painted by Erie Chang.

#BalboaSong
#GaleetMuchRespect
#ArtFirst
#BeatsmithLivin
#TheLastAncients

DAY 5 (March 1, 2014):

Sandy Margulies Goldfarb

“It Was a School of Magic” by Erie Chang & Jamez Chang © Erie Chang 2014

Sandy Margulies Goldfarb was the child actress in our school who we’d forget was the Child Actress, simply because she acted like one of us. Smart & smiling, Sandy Margulies is the name you can’t help but feel good about, saying aloud. She begins and ends the narration/spoken word on a track called “Balboa.” (Day 5 of 10).

http://youtu.be/Rp2qTVbYhlU

* Paying my respects to Sandy today, who brought cheer and kindness to her peers. And maybe a dose of magic.

“IT WAS A SCHOOL OF MAGIC ” – The fourth of seven commemorative art pieces, with the theme of children’s/YA book covers. Designed by Jamez; painted by Erie Chang.

#BalboaSong
#SandyMuchRespect
#ArtFirst
#BeatsmithLivin
#TheLastAncients

DAY 6 (March 2, 2014):

Jenny Chew-Mitchell

“Testing 1, 2, 3” by Erie Chang & Jamez Chang © Erie Chang 2014

The coolest voice I’d ever heard growing up came from a girl named Chew. Jenny Chew. I heard it in my very first class at Balboa, in a classroom taught by Toy. Mrs. Toy. I’d later share a 4th-grade class with Jenny, and we’d hear a Mrs. Boxer curse-out a pronoun…Part of the magical ride through elementary includes these fairy-tale names & sonic flashbacks, of which Jenny Chew-Mitchell is an important part. Jenny’s voice can be heard at 3:31 on a track called “Balboa.” (Day 6 of 10).

http://youtu.be/Rp2qTVbYhlU

* Paying my respects to Jenny today, whose been great at staying in touch with some of the class over the years. Maybe her friends miss hearing that voice, which has evolved into sort of a Demi Moore/Kelly Kapur-from-“The Office”-hybrid (which is dope!).

“TESTING 1, 2, 3” – The fifth of seven commemorative art pieces, with the theme of children’s/YA book covers. Designed by Jamez; painted by Erie Chang.

#BalboaSong
#JennyMuchRespect
#ArtFirst
#BeatsmithLivin
#TheLastAncients

DAY 7 (March 3, 2014):

Wendy Doling

“Wendy Mars” by Erie Chang & Jamez Chang © Erie Chang 2014

I told Wendy she needed to get into Francis Ford Coppola, “Go check out The Godfather”—our many conversations in Sixth Grade. Wendy Doling was one of the easiest people to talk to, still is, and just had a gift for sizing-up a situation. A social observer with a laid-back presence. Wendy’s music-box piano intro sets the tone on a track called “Balboa.” (Day 7 of 10).

http://youtu.be/Rp2qTVbYhlU

* Paying my respects to Wendy today, who had a quirky vibe that I can now identify as CREATIVE.

“WENDY MARS” – The sixth of seven commemorative art pieces, with the theme of children’s/YA book covers. Designed by Jamez; painted by Erie Chang.

#BalboaSong
#WendyMuchRespect
#ArtFirst
#BeatsmithLivin
#TheLastAncients

DAY 8 (March 4, 2014):

Jay W. Lee

“Perfect Storm” by Erie Chang & Jamez Chang © Erie Chang 2014

We called the Lees our Favorite Family. Jay W. Lee and his little brother, James, would come over the house over 200 times during my childhood. He knew all my secret crushes, knew the girls interested in me (…for some reason, I read their little love letters aloud after we played IntelliVision & Top Secret). Knew about Laura P; even heard the “song” I’d later write for a girl named Naomi, much later in 7th grade. Jay was there when I decided to dress like Don Johnson for 2 months in 5th––deck shoes, no socks, pounding pavement & moving targets on the socco court.

I guess you could call him the closest thing to a confidante an elementary-school kid could have. He and a kind kid named Scotty––my besties. Yet in the middle of 7th grade I lost touch with both of them…’til now, 25 years later. It’s an honor to re-connect with the good doctor, an old, dear friend, who in the 11th hour, completed the perfect storm: cello & sound-checks on a track called “Balboa.” (Day 8 of 10).

http://youtu.be/Rp2qTVbYhlU

* Paying my respects to Jay today, a brother who I’d make watch David Letterman with me on Friday night sleep-overs in elementary. A guy who hid his sense of humor, but had an awesome one at that, now flourishing along with his family and medical practice. Much Respect to the “Perfect One.”

“PERFECT STORM” – The seventh of seven commemorative art pieces, with the theme of children’s/YA book covers. Designed by Jamez; painted by Erie Chang.

#BalboaSong
#JayMuchRespect
#ArtFirst
#BeatsmithLivin
#TheLastAncients

DAY 9 (March 5, 2014):

"TEAM" Designed by Bennie Lussier

“TEAM” Designed by Bennie Lussier

Beatsmith Medore co-produced the “Balboa” song and is part of the collective The Last Ancients (along with me, Isaac KirkmanEzra Letra, and Clifford Brooks). Medore also represents 3rd Phloor Productions and Kwantum Mechanicz, standing out as a production force in the Underground & Arizona hip hop scenes. And he’s a dude I’ve only known for 7 months (not 25 years…). Our entire crew has gotten past some rocky times to develop a great respect for each other and each other’s art. I’m just feeling grateful that we all stayed the course through the ups-and-downs to develop true friendships, and this collaboration sort of speaks to that harmony. Check out Bennie Beatsmith Medore‘s musical artistry on a track called “Balboa.” (Day 9 of 10).

http://youtu.be/Rp2qTVbYhlU

* Paying my respects to Beatsmith Medore today, a brother who is passionate about music and has the talent-plus-perseverance not only to back it up, but to go pretty damn far.

#BalboaSong
#MedoreMuchRespect
#ArtFirst
#BeatsmithLivin
#TheLastAncients

DAY 10 (March 6, 2014):

Jamez Chang

“Tesseract” by Erie Chang © Erie Chang 2014

http://youtu.be/Rp2qTVbYhlU (Day 10 of 10)

When I was a little kid, I used to watch “The Price Is Right,” and when it came down to the final 2 contestants during Showcase Showdown, they’d have to decide on a bid for either the car-bar set-matching china-and-microwave OR the trip to Bermuda. I always thought those folks who chose the vacation packages were fools, reaching for something that’d be gone in a week; but the color TV…now there was an object that’d bring decades of comfort. And so I’d scream at the screen, “Go for the Car, you idiot! Big-screen THINGS!”

My artistic intent for the “Balboa” project was to elevate process, the EXPERIENCE over result. While there was always a deadline (Feb. 17), there was also a sense that those conversations with elementary school friends, the brainstorming dialog, the feedback, rough drafts, vibe, artistic growth, those precious memories rekindled through storied recollection, were even more important. Byproduct: The NOW got magnified. By embracing the past, we put the present in high relief, knob 11, and I, personally, began to appreciate those around me, those fleeting moments on surround sound so much more. Started talking randomly to commuters on the bus! Taking more risks…

The #BalboaSong (the commemorative artwork, the 600+ convo thread, the emails, phone calls, facebook chats, music, production, the microphones sent, the friendships delivered) was one big TRUST-fall exercise. In other words, the most important thing for me, as an artist, was to work with people I trusted. Still holds true. That way, all the petty bullsh*t miscommunication/misunderstanding so prevalent in online communication can get pre-empted in seconds. Simply by faith.

And now the “result” (a pretty awesome song and 8 art pieces) almost seems like a pleasant byproduct…because the process was so right, from beginning to end. Last takeaway? Whatever you do, remember to LOVE what you do and show off the two THINGS that never go out of style, whether in Los Angeles or Bermuda:
Much
Respect.
-Jamez

http://youtu.be/Rp2qTVbYhlU (Day 10 of 10)

#BalboaSong
#ErieMuchRespect
#ArtFirst
#BeatsmithLivin
#TheLastAncients

“TESSERACT” – Designed and painted by Erie Chang. The unexpected 8th of seven commemorative art pieces, with the theme of children’s/YA book covers.

Publication Notes: 

A song dedicated to the Balboa Class of 1985. A song in tribute to friendship, learning, and the lasting bonds forged by music.

“Balboa”
Jamez Chang
featuring
Dameius D. Cooley
Nicole Yaro-Good
Galeet Dardashti
Sandy Margulies Goldfarb
Jenny Chew-Mitchell
Wendy Doling
Jay W. Lee

Produced by Beatsmith Medore & Jamez Chang
Released by The Last Ancients
Limited Release for Balboa Friends: 2/18/14
Official Release: 2/25/14
Available on YouTube & SoundCloud

LINER NOTES/PRODUCTION NOTES IN PROGRESS

Mixed & Mastered by Jamez Chang
Vocal Tracking by Jeff Kyle at 2-Elephants Studios;

Photograph Courtesy of Cynthia Cohen

——————————————————————————————-
“Balboa”
Lyrics by Jamez Chang, Dameius D. Cooley, Galeet Dardashti, Nicole Yaro-Good, Sandy Margulies Goldfarb

Bus-stop cheer, Sandy Margulies:

It was a school of magic
It was a place where we learned magic
As we say goodbye for now
We hope to see you soon
We hope to see you soon
See you fighting
1, 2, 3!
To our school.

A-B-C-D-E-F-G
H-I-J-K-L-M-N-O-P
Q-R-S-T-U-V
W-X-Y-and-Z.

I made plans
Painting with my hands
Playin’ in the sand
Here at Balboa.

I made plans
Painting with my hands
Playin’ in the sand
Here at Balboa.

It pays to find you’re doing good
like your name, last time I saw your face—
to-face, we’d already changed too much
to reminisce on older stuff like Balboa

The school I meant to magnetize
In my mind elementary Wat—son,
Now I get it, Dameius Cooley on my right
To guide me through it.

When a head tilts to the side
When Laura P’s the girl I like
Even though we met in Fraidy Katz
Demolition CRU, me in the library at recess time,
Wrinkle in Time

Reading tesseract by Madeline
Marquardt Court, I sat in
Cursed freely, kickball practice my cry on cue
In the principal’s office, damn that’s when I knew
Balboa.

I made plans
Painting with my hands
Playin’ in the sand
Here at Balboa.

I made plans
Painting with my hands
Playin’ in the sand
Here at Balboa.

Before I was a Yankee or a Conquistador
I was an Explorer
on a ship to Balboa
Not Noah but my pond just grew too
But a brother can’t swim so
What I’m supposed to do?

Wade in the water what the old folks say
So I took a deep breath and I made my way
off the yellow limo
This is not a demo
But can it be that it was all so simple?
Then,
Benetton Friends, Socco no Gym, Mighty 69
x 10

Stood out like a penny
‘mongst the Scotts & Jennys
But my mythology is as good as any’s
So when he reminisce over gods & goddesses
of ’85, I played my part on it’s
all flowin’ back
like this track we on (Balboa)
Token to the boatman (Swim Song)
Peace, I’m gone.

I made plans
Painting with my hands
Playin’ in the sand
Here at Balboa.

I made plans
Painting with my hands
Playin’ in the sand
Here at Balboa.

Didn’t mean to miss you like I did
It’s been a while
Never lack of living
Didn’t mean to miss you like I did
‘Course I did
It’s been a while
Seen a lot of living.

Sugar Plum Tree, Jenny Chew:

Testing 1, 2, 3
Sugar-plum tree
Testing 3
Little children (2, 2, 2)
Lollipop sea
Testing
Shore
One
Treasure that rains
Who say
Testing
Jenny’s rain
Stripings of scarlet or gold
Children

Down by the banks of the hankity-panky
Where the bullfrogs jump from bank to banky

Good little children

Plans
I laid plans
Here at Balboa
I laid plans

Miss Mary Mack all dressed in black
With silver buttons going down her back

It was a school of magic
Where we learned magic

Mrs. Ogawa
Mrs. Ferris
Mrs. Boxer
Ms. Katz
Mrs. Toy
Mr. Friedman
Ms. Rankin
Mr. Dewey

Here at Balboa
Remember when…W-X-Y-and-Z.

——————————————————————————————-

© 2014 Jamez Chang, The Last Ancients

2 Comments
  1. racheljfenton permalink

    Epic appreciation in this post!

    • Thanks, Rae! Can you believe it was last summer (your winter?) when we entered the collaboration dojo then created some awesome poems?!? Thanks for helping me prepare for this…

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