Baltimore has always been a place where Black arts and culture shine. We don’t have to look outside the city to find good music. We have it right here.
I’m excited this week to feature a piece written by Arts and Culture Editor Teri Henderson about the duo Brian Ennals and Infinity Knives, and their 2022 release, King Cobra. Black people have always created culture out of thin air, using music to celebrate, to protest, to love, and that’s on display in this album. Henderson points out the way their music evades boundaries, drawing a line that connects Ennals and Infinity Knives to hip-hop pioneer Slick Rick, and to jazz innovator Ornette Coleman.
“The duo has created a sophomore release that is the perfect background music for polishing your guillotine or lacing up your shoes to work out, or pushing through to the next day, aware of darkness but awaiting brighter days,” Henderson writes.
I’m happy that Baltimore Beat can be a place where music made by our neighbors, family, and friends is chronicled with care and thoughtfulness.
Infinity Knives and Brian Ennals’ work illustrates persistence in the face of pandemic and the limits often placed on Black art. Their perseverance is integral to life in Baltimore.
In this issue, guest contributor Molly Shah, whose work comes to us thanks to a partnership with the Real News Network, looks at how Baltimore and Maryland will persevere in the fight for abortion access in the world post-Roe v. Wade. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 ruling, taking away Americans’ constitutional right to abortion and leaving it to the states to decide. The decision means millions of people who can give birth lose the power to regulate their own bodies. Access to abortion is still more possible in Maryland than in other parts of the country, which means this state will see more people coming here to obtain this necessary medical procedure.
Director of Operations Brandon Soderberg explains how Maryland’s slow, arduous, and confusing path toward cannabis decriminalization plays out in Baltimore, a city still reeling from the drug war. Decriminalization has upended the underground market and forced one dealer to take even more risks. It has also caused one man to make the difficult choice between work and mental health. Those connected to the cannabis economy have had to persist in the face of contradictory public policy.
Henderson also writes a review of Ky Vassor and Gen Fraser’s dual exhibition at Cahoots Brothers, What’s Left To Give. Their artwork asks us to question how much we value and honor Black women and femmes.
Baltimore is a city that is always resisting, adjusting, coping, and thriving. And I hope what you read here illustrates that.
DISCLOSURES and CONFLICTS of INTEREST
As a community-focused newspaper, the Beat is proud to be on-the-ground, amid the city’s many scenes, and often a degree or two removed from grassroots activists and changemakers. We believe this is as it should be for a newspaper such as ours. At the same time, those relationships create complications to our journalism—which is why we’re disclosing possible conflicts of interest in each issue to make sure we’re being honest and accountable.
1. As disclosed in the story, “Yesterday’s Prices Are Not Today’s Prices,” The Beat’s Brandon Soderberg mentions his work on a 2018 study published by Baltimore Fishbowl about racial disparities in cannabis arrests post-decriminalization.
2. Also in “Yesterday’s Prices Are Not Today’s Prices,” the main sources are identified only by the initial in their first name. That’s because both sources requested anonymity for obvious reasons: One is breaking the law by dealing drugs and the other, is someone who was worried their comments could compromise their job.
3. Molly Shah’s “Capacity Crisis” is an adjusted and updated version of a story published by one of our partners The Real News Network back in June.