Last week, Young Moose, one of Baltimore's most popular rappers, released a new video for his Freddie Gray-related protest song, "No SunShine." The track also features a guest verse from local poet and rapper Martina Lynch.
The tone of the roughly three-minute clip, which you can watch above, is contextualized resentment toward Baltimore police. It opens with footage of a black protester in a "F--- The Police" T-shirt being pulled to the ground by his dreadlocks by a police officer. Surveillance footage of another Baltimore officer, Vincent Cosom, beating a man named Kollin Truss last June at a North Avenue bus stop follows. (Cosom was sentenced to six months in jail earlier this month for assault.)
To drive the video's point home, the Sun's often-cited fact that Baltimore police has paid more than $5.7 million since 2011 in lawsuits related to allegations of police brutality against alleged suspects precedes Moose's opening verse. Against this backdrop (set to Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine"), the artists present a cause-and-effect depiction of the volatile environment they call home.
In his verse, Young Moose (born Kevron Evans) calls out the police for what he considers making assumptions in Freddie Gray's death. He also mentions Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. As riot footage plays, Young Moose raps:
"They trying to throw us in the cage, ain't no letting us out
I wanna know why the mayor keep on ducking us out
They label us as some killers and some f---ing gorillas
They say the kids criminals, them b----es is trippin'
If you was young and lost one, you woulda went on a mission
And the crazy thing about it he ain't gonna see Christmas"
After Moose ends his verse by comparing Freddie Gray to Rodney King and Emmett Till, Lynch spits a melodic double-time flow about the difficult conditions of her community.
"We live in poverty, probably seen some things that could take you out of your normal state and turn you to a fiend or maybe give up your dreams and take you out to the street," she raps.
Along with Lor Scoota, Young Moose has emerged in the last couple of years as one of Baltimore's most buzzing and promising rappers. Last June, Moose's "O.T.M. 2" (short for "Out the Mud") was bolstered by the single "Dumb Dumb." The sequel, "O.T.M. 3: Something Out of Nothing," was released in March.
Moose has had his own issues with law enforcement. Last August, Moose was held on probation violation that caused him to miss opening for Boosie Badazz at Royal Farms Arena. (A judge called the confinement without bail "cruel and unusual.") For two detailed looks on Moose, his relationship with police and his lyrics being used as evidence, read the Sun's "When rap lyrics become evidence" and City Paper's "The Detective and The Rapper."
Earlier this month, Baltimore Councilman Nick Mosby brought local rappers together — including Scoota and Moose — to talk to Carver Vocational-Technical High School juniors about their experiences and advice for the future.
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"Sometimes you got to go through stuff before you get where you're going," Moose told the students. "Keep grinding."