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Baltimore rapper and professor form unlikely friendship over health disparities class centered on "The Wire"

When rapper Diablo Flamez and professor Toby Gordon walk into the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School together, they make an odd pair.

Flamez wears jeans, sneakers and dark sunglasses. Cornrows poke out from under a baseball cap. Tattoos cover his arms.

Gordon sports a pixie haircut, neat dresses and horn-rimmed glasses.

But when they get in front of their class, they become the perfect complement.

Hopkins Hospital and Health System, teach a seminar together about health disparities centered around the popular HBO series “The Wire.” Gordon is an associate professor in health policy and management. Flamez, born Damion Champ, is paid as a regular guest speaker and consultant.

Gordon offers research and data. Flamez provides a straight-from-the-streets perspective.

Beyond the classroom, the relationship between the rapper and professor, who live in neighborhoods of Baltimore that seem worlds apart, has blossomed into a strong, albeit unorthodox, friendship. They talk on the phone and visit regularly. Gordon has also become close with Diablo’s daughter and mother.

The pair met at a conference at Columbia University in 2016.

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