Baltimore's Hip-Hop Community Speaks Up About Freddie Gray And Their City's Reaction

Los, DJ Quicksilva and more speak out.

All eyes are on Baltimore, Maryland in the aftermath of Freddie Gray's death on Apr. 19 and the subsequent civil unrest in the city. Demonstrators have taken to the streets for peaceful protests and there have been riots, as well.

Major networks have set up broadcasts, political pundits have weighed in and celebrities of all types have offered insight. On Tuesday, MTV News reached out to four local Baltimore hip-hop stars to get their perspective on Freddie Gray and their city, in order to hear their unique perspectives.

King Los - Rapper, RCA Records

"It's still a lot of tension and it's still a lot of friction that exists still. It's a majority peace thing, I know the media don't really display that as much as it should, but it's just such a broken place in terms of a community and a city and it's such a scarred place. This is the type of thing we see that occurs in the poverty stricken, urban, drug-infested, neglected types of towns and cities. It's a lot of people doing good out there -- because that's also what that kind of environment produces -- it produces people that want to do good, but it also has the elements of that environment present at all times.

I'm not condoning the violence and I'm not in any way supporting the riots. What I'm saying is, if the riots keep happening, it's a result of something. People just don't riot every day. People are particularly happy... people want peace. I've seen Christians and Muslims come together in my city, that is monumental. I saw Bloods, Crips, [Black Guerrilla Family], Pirus, come together to stop violence. If that's not monumental, I don't know what is.

Look at the result of what's happening, that's bigger than violence. What we need is value. If two rival gangs can value each other enough to help save a community -- these are the gangs, these are the people that you say are the criminals -- then why aren't the people that are paid to protect and serve us giving the same value to that community? Why? And those are the questions that we have to ask and those are the answers that we need."

DJ Quicksilva - DJ, 92Q Jams (Baltimore) and 93.9 WKYS (D.C.)

John Johnson


"This is not Freddie Gray violence, this is not what he wanted. His family made it clear that they didn't even want any protests on [Monday]. [Monday] wasn't a protest, it was a riot as I call it. This is in no way a reflection of Baltimore the city. The city has been fed up for years with a lot of the police brutality, but what happened [Monday] wasn't that, that was just -- what I believe, people who just needed a reason to loot, a reason to go off the way they did.

The community is still very frustrated, because we still have no answers to what's going on with the Freddie Gray case. I know the media is focused on the violence and all the stuff that happened on [Monday] with police and the kids, but let's keep focus that we want justice. Forget about getting the justice, let's get an answer first because right now the police has not even said what happened with Freddie Gray...

My 100 percent role is to use my voice and my platform to allow people to put their message out there and that's what I did on [Monday]. I'm back on the radio in Baltimore -- shout to my co-host Lil' Mo -- but [Monday] was actually our first day back... On my first day on the radio this happens. My 17 years on radio, I never had a more intense day than I had [on Monday]."

Ellis - Rapper, Independent

"It's a divide. You see a lot of the elders taking a stance... but you see a lot of the youth who was actually involved, they feel differently.

I'm sure a lot of these kids that were out there involved have had brothers [fall victim to police brutality]. First of all, with all respect to Freddie Gray's family and my condolences to his family, but there are several Freddie Grays in Baltimore. This has been going on forever; this is not something that is an isolated incident. How long can you have that happen? How long can you stand by and have your people brutalized and nothing be done? It's a division within that. The climate? The city's on fire right now, but hopefully this brings forth some kind of change, because those young brothers were out there. It was misguided. I'm not condoning riots in any form, but riots are a cry out for those that don't have a voice.

They're going to paint them as animals, but you cant just look at the effect and not look at the cause. You can't do that. You can't separate the two."

Jay Wyse - Rapper, Independent

"It's been over a week now, we still don't have a story, we still don't know what actually happened [to Freddie Gray]. All we have the video of him responsive before they ever put him in the van.

I participated last week in one of the marches from [where Freddie Gray was arrested] down to the District. The District is not far from where he was arrested at all, so it that timeframe what could possible happen that would land him with those type of injuries? Fist the coma, then they go back and see 80 percent of his spine severed, broken bones in his neck. It don't add up.

These kids that are rioting or demonstrating or that are protesting, you label them as thugs because of a situation that you let go, an area that you put them in. For instance, what happened at Mondawmin on [Monday], you have a police force that's already outside, already in riot gear, before these kids even get out of school. These kids get out of school and then you shut down mass transit, so you putting all these kids in one position, with no where to go. So, what are they to do when the already see you in full force and riot gear? All it takes is for one teen to initiate something. Teens are impressionable, once that one does it, then it's all out and that's what happened."

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