First of all—prayers and thoughts up for all affected by the earthquake in Nepal, which includes actual millions of people. At the time of writing, 7,000-plus people are dead. If you're the praying type, there are some folks who could use yours.
As they could right now in West Baltimore, of course, where the death of local man Freddie Gray—who at the time of this writing is still alleged to have snapped his own spine in the back of a police van—has sparked another American powder keg. How many folks who imagined themselves immersed in the desolation of Charm City's streets and the desperation of its people for five whole seasons of The Wire now gently shake their heads and ask each other, "How could they burn down their own neighborhoods?" (The same way we snap our own necks, apparently.) May everybody out in those streets get home safe, free of violence at the hands of the cops or others—and may they not get black-bagged for walking or taking pictures, either. Martial law is scary shit.
RIP to Mya Hall, a trans woman who was killed by police in Baltimore early in April after crashing her car outside an NSA headquarters. (Yikes.) Judging by Erick Sermon's recent comments in the wake of Bruce Jenner's transitioning (thanks, TMZ, for this needless and disappointing insight into the Green-Eyed Bandit's head and heart), I can guess that the EPMD founder will not drop Hall's name in a song anytime soon. (Not that anybody listens to new Erick Sermon songs in 2015.) Trans artists, he says, can't be a part of hiphop—never mind the fact that they already fucking are—that's just taking the culture too far. Much as I love EPMD's classic output, this is still the dude who some say set up his own partner to get robbed—not exactly the person to trust when it comes to delineating what's "too far."
Now: To paraphrase Chi-Town MC Mick Jenkins, "WHAT'S HAPPENING IN BALTIMORE IS COMING TO A CITY NEAR YOU." All caps. And when it does, what are you going to do? Cry out for the broken windows? Bitch about "thugs" and "looters"? (Just say the word you're really thinking.) You want to talk about looting? Check out "civil forfeiture." Not only do the cops have an inalienable right to loot your body of its life, they can also snatch up your cash, your car, your family's house—if they think it's nebulously related to a crime. This land you stand on was and is being looted, quite legally. Hiphop, soul, funk, jazz, rock—looted. All I see are thugs running in and out of the culture, arms full of goods.
They can take our last breaths and literally break our backs and blame it all on us. This situation is simply untenable, just way, way, way too hot—and heat, Goodie Mob's Khujo once rapped, "will make anything move." Summer's comin'.