I don't spend as much time as I used to in Baltimore, but my love for the city that raised me and encouraged me to "get up, get out and get something" will forever be near and dear.
With the release of their first single, Pennsylvania Avenue, from their upcoming album, Deeper Than Dirt, the Dirt Platoon really got me to thinking about one of the most famous streets in the city. Peep their audio and video ode to "The Ave:"
Even though I didn't grow up on or around "The Ave," I am lucky to have a handful of memories thanks to Shake 'N Bake. I also had one of my first pointless run-ins with the cops on Pennsylvania. Due to the crime that ensues in the area, I guess it was crazy to think that a 17-year-old kid in '94 could be doing nothing more than driving his mother's model-year, Pontiac Grand Am to Rite Aid for some chips and a soda. It was one of the most ridiculous conversations I ever had with a cop. But it also prepared me for future ridiculous conversations with cops.
As I got older, I became aware of the greater impact The Ave had on black culture in Baltimore through stories told by elders and articles like this one. From theatres to bars, restaurants and stores, Pennsylvania was the place to see and be seen in the city. Due to the times, it wasn't necessarily by choice, but you can bet that the resenment to a "Crow named Jim" didn't completely stop people from living and enjoying life.
While The Ave may not be for the Dirt Platoon what it was for people in my grandparent's generation- or even my dad's- the simple fact is that you can only live the reality that surrounds you. As an ode to their block, Pennsylvania Avenue paints the picture of today's Ave in full color.
Deeper Than Dirt drops on September 15 on Brakefast Records.
Dirt Platoon- Pennsylvania Avenue (produced by Tom Delay & R. Taylor)