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Embassy to the world
By Rich Griset CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Embassy members (from left) P.J. Penaloza (Flip D’ Skript), Sebastian and Kimsan Yin (Kimsan) will meet with 50 Cent later this month to discuss a music deal. Ash Daniel/Chesterfield Observer While the music group Embassy might sound unfamiliar to you, chances are it probably doesn’t to your kids. In the past two years Embassy has brought its fusion of hip-hop, R&B, soul and pop music to more than 50 schools in the Richmond area. The group has performed on WRIC-TV8, and its latest single, “Rider Girl,” is currently receiving airplay on 106.5 The Beat.
But that isn’t all. Embassy has had success abroad as well as locally. After headlining a red carpet event in New York for Couture Fashion Week, the group was contacted by Sean “Diddy” Combs’ management team. The group then performed for Diddy and Curtis “50 Cent” James Jackson III in New York City. 50 Cent liked the group enough to ask for another meeting with them on May 20, and wants them to open for one of the groups on his label in June.
Members P.J. Penaloza (Flip D’ Skript), Sebastian, and Kimsan Yin (Kimsan) all promote living a clean lifestyle. None of the trio drinks, smokes or does drugs.
“All of us have to be above the influence to set a good example for the youth,” Penaloza said. Last year the group played for National Night Out, an event to support drug and crime prevention.
“We like to have a positive message because of what we’ve been through,” Yin said.
The three-person ensemble has dealt with hardships to get where they are today. Yin emigrated with his parents from Cambodia in the aftermath of genocide and the rule of the Khmer Rouge. Penaloza was born in the Philippines and moved to the Bronx as a toddler.
“Born in the jungle, grew up in the concrete jungle,” Penaloza said. “Experiencing the poverty in our country made us appreciate the opportunity in this country.” Sebastian, the third member of the group, grew up in Florida. “We respect others. We know where we came from,” said Penaloza.
Yin grew up in Colonial Heights, but moved to Chesterfield when his parents opened Shogun Japanese Steak and Sushi in Woodlake. Yin cites his mother as a major influence on him. “She always sang to me and my brother. That’s where I got my love of music from,” Yin said.
Musically, Yin and the other band members cite pop, hip-hop, soul, R&B and even country as influences on their work. So far the group has released two underground albums and is working on its debut album.
“We talk about relationships we face. We encourage people to keep their heads up,” Yin said.
Penaloza agrees, saying the group’s music tackles issues of love, relationships and family instead of less universal topics. “No one wants to hear about your crack money or how big your rims is,” Penaloza said.
Diamond Reese, the group’s promoter, says that Embassy’s mixture of different genres is what sets them apart. “They don’t offer one thing like most groups … I love these guys. They’re like my little brothers,” Reese said. To support themselves, the group works other jobs. Yin helps run his family’s restaurant, and Mayo works as a stocker at Food Lion. Penaloza works as a chef at Kenji Hibatchi and Sushi Bar, cooking food and performing tricks, like tossing an egg into his hat. “I can actually play with your food and not get in trouble for it,” Penaloza said with a laugh. One of Sebastian's favorite experiences with the group happened late one night at a Denny’s. As Embassy was eating, a group of mothers approached them and asked for autographs for their sons. “Whether it’s kids, adults, teenagers, we got it,” Sebastian said. Although some might not understand the name right away, Penaloza says Embassy fits the group’s image as ambassadors of sound.
“Embassy is like a welcoming mat for all nations,” Penaloza said. “We want to make music that can cater to the whole world.”