As some of you may recall, the day after Galleon Group founder Raj Rajartnam was indicted on insider trading charges, the Postdug up a rap song that had been recorded years earlier called "The Good Ship Galleon," commissioned, of course, by party animal Raj. All we knew at the time was that the artists featured in the ditty went by the names Jesse Jaymes and Cleveland D, but not why this happened or the creative process that went into producing the tune. Lucky for us, Wall Street memoirist and Galleon alum Turney Duff happens to be on a first name basis with Cleveland D because he is Cleveland D, as we find out in Chapter 8 of The Buy Side. Sayeth Mr D:
A few weeks later, I'm in the office and it's slow. Gary is out at a charity golf event, Raj is at an outside meeting, and Slaine is in the conference room on a call. I'm working on a spreadsheet, a guest list for a party Galleon is planning. I begin to call our sales traders to find out if they plan to attend and if they'll be bringing anyone. I can also add five names of my own, I'm told-- but only those people who supply good information...
One morning, the guy who Raj hired to plan the party and arrange for the talent, which includes the headliner Donna Summer, walks in the door. There's something about him, a hip-looking, tall dude with shaggy blonde hair, that Iike immediately. Maybe it's his entrepreneurial manner, or that his company seems ultracreative-- along with having him plan the whole party, Raj has also commissioned him to write a rap theme song for Galleon-- or maybe he represents a non-Wall Street part of me I've almost forgotten. He introduces himself as Jesse Itzler, and then I realize he also goes b the rap name Jesse Jaymes.
"Hey Jesse," one of my desk-mates yells our. "Turney here is a rapper." I turn a baby girl's nursery shade of pink. "That so," he says, nodding his head in approval. "What's your rap name?"
"Cleveland D," I say finally.
"Nice," he says.
Now, calling me a rapper is, to say the least, a bit of a stretch. It's true, I love hip-hop. And it's also true that in 1998 I formed a rap group called Maximum Intensity with my best friend, Nathaniel, who called himself Live T. Most of our other friends hated rap music. But we were in high school in Kennebunk, certainly one of the most un-hip-hop places on earth, and we mostly performed in Nathaniel's barn to an audience of zero.
A couple day s later, the phone rings at the desk and it's Jesse. He wants to know if I'll help him with the lyrics for the Galleon theme song. "Really?!" I say, in an embarrassingly high-pitched voice. But I follow up with a very manly "Sure, love to." After all, though it might be a big jump from Nathaniel's barn, when will another opportunity like this come along? [...]
With only a week to write, record, and produce the song, I don't understand how he's goign to get it done in time. I prepared for our meeting for a week-- or rather, I worried about our meeting for a week. I wanted to prepare, but I didn't know where to start. I've come up with one idea for the hook, but it seems foolish now. I sit on the couch and Jesse sits on a chair across from me and beings asking me questions about Galleon: what it's like to work there, what's Wall Street's perception of the firm. I tell him one of the names the Street calls Galleon is "the good ship." And that's when my one idea pops out of my mouth. Why don't we sample the song "On the Good Ship Lollipop" but change the lyrics to "On the Good Ship Galleon"?
His face breaks into a smile. "Cleveland D!" he belts, his head pumping up and down. I breathe a sigh of relief.
I start to relax and the lyrics began to flow: "It's the Good Ship Galleon..When Wall Street has a rally on...When traders trade...Everybody in the place gets paid..." Shirley Temple would be proud. Jesse has a female vocalist lay down the chorus. Then, with all of my notes and suggestions, he gets into the booth and starts to rap. I'm in awe. In less than twenty minutes, he's done. "Your turn," he says. Jesse has suggested I rap a few lines, or in his words, eight bars. At first I was excited, but now I'm nervous. I think about Nathaniel and all those afternoons and evenings we spent practicing, mimicking the latest hit or coming up with our own rhymes. I need to do this.
The engineer plays the track of Jesse's last line so I'll know where to jump in. I have to finish his line and rhyme it with "CNBC." Here's what I do: "And me, Cleveland D...," I being. "Hit me, bid me, I need liquidity...Stopped me on five? Stupidity...I'm at Galleon where it all connects, trading healthcare and biotech..." When I finish, the producer looks at me with an "Are you serious?" expression. He plays it back to me and I sound awful, like a tone-deaf robot. I might have to change my rap name to Tone Duff. I try it again with little improvement. Nine more times we lay it down. And nine more times the producer shakes his head back and forth. Finally, on the eleventh try, he shrugs and my first (and only, to this point) rap recording is born. So I don't sound like Chuck D or Jay Z or even Vanilla Ice-- I still have a CD I can send home to Nathaniel, which he can play as loud as he wants, silencing all the Maine haters. [...]
The party's insane. Seven hours later I'm standing outside. I see Baby Arm1 getting into his car. He stops when he sees me and walks over. "You need any more?" he says, pointing to his pocket.
"No thanks," I say.
"Hell of a party, man," he says. "Fucking epic." He holds up his copy of the CD and shakes it like it's hot. "The Good Ship Galleon" is a hit. Everyone receives a copy, and I hear people singing the catchy chorus: "...put your money on Galleon."
Baby Arm seats himself in the bank of his town car but leaves the door open.
"A hedge fund with a rap song can only mean on thing," he says.
As great as the night has been, as unlimited as Wall Street's ceiling, seems, something feels prescient about Baby Arm's words. All I can think of, though, is that for me, the party isn't over. It's just about to being. As the sell side streams out into the street, I hear some of them call my name. "Great tune, Turney," they say. And, all of a sudden, I feel my edge beginning to form.
1."Baby Arm works directly on the floor for himself. With his night-time open-collared silk shirts that reveal a chest filled with curly black hair, and his fondness for gaudy jewelry, he looks like he's right out of the cast of The Sopranos. If he went to college, he's never mentioned it. He's a big guy-- supposedly ALL his body parts are big, hence the nickname."
The Buy Side: A Wall Street Trader's Tale of Spectacular Excess [Amazon]
Earlier: This Is A Story About Hookers And Blow. But It’s Also A Cautionary Tale About What Happens To Retirement-Age Prostitutes Who Fail To Set Up Nest Eggs For Themselves.; Wall Street Memoirist Offers Innovative (If Extreme*) Excuse For Absenteeism; "I don't wait on lines, I snort them"