Some of Baltimore's best-known rap artists, who've been sniping at each other in song over the last several months, walked into the conference room of a Druid Heights community center on Wednesday for a summit brokered by police and community activists, and came out nearly three hours later declaring themselves united.
The word spread to city neighborhoods minutes later on Twitter: "Just seen a pic with Moose, Scoota, & Dboi … no more 'beef.' "
Organizers called the sit-down of about 20 local hip-hop artists in response to conflicts simmering on mix tapes, in social media posts and in music videos. Police and activists wanted to act before the friction spilled into the streets.
"These guys pulled us in to make sure of that," said Teron Matthews, manager of the Baltimore rapper Young Moose. "Misunderstandings got cleared up."
The disputes were about competition, jealousy and alliances, perceptions of disrespect and small jabs on YouTube that blew up into entire videos with retaliatory threats. The arguments have even drawn in Felicia "Snoop" Pearson, the Baltimore actress best known for her role in "The Wire."
Matthews said the meeting was "about the city coming together, creating positive energy, dispelling any notions of beef."
Carmichael "Stokey" Cannady, a former drug dealer who has become a community activist, mediated the group conference.
"I thought it's an opportunity not only to save lives but prevent violence based on a misunderstanding or young guys not being on the same page," Cannady said.
Several police officers attended the meeting. Neither they nor a police spokeswoman would comment.
Cannady said the meeting was a chance for the artists to "squash whatever conflict they had," and it opened the door for future forums in which the artists can serve as positive role models for Baltimore youth.
"These guys got a lot of potential," Cannady said.
David Manigault, a music video director who attended the meeting, said that message was instilled into the rappers by police, activists and themselves.
"I don't think these guys realize what influence they have on the youth," Manigault said. "So if they unite, it has a lot of influence."
That became evident minutes after the rap artists left in their designer jeans, ballcaps and gray Infiniti sedans. A middle-school boy sat in the lobby of the Maggie Quille Druid Heights Community Center, where the group had just met, and talked to someone over the phone.
"Young Moose was here," he said. "No, I'm serious. They gone now."