10 Vivid Photos Reveal Hip-Hop’s New York Evolution
Check out Busta Rhymes and LL Cool J from back in the day.
Remember the heyday of Yo! MTV Raps with Ed Lover and Doctor Dré (no relation to Dr Dre of NWA fame) and Fab 5 Freddy? Remember way back when Biggie had the red-and-black lumberjack with the hat to match? When mixtapes on actual cassettes were a thing?
Well, three photographers whose work is now on view at the Museum of the City of New York do. Janette Beckman, Joe Conzo, and Martha Cooper were on hand to document Gotham’s thriving hip-hop scene, and the show “Hip-Hop Revolution” presents 100 of their photographs, taken between 1977 and 1990.
The images document various elements of the scene, from rapping and DJ-ing to breakdancing. Hip-hop mainstays and icons, from Queen Latifah, Busta Rhymes, and Afrika Bambaata to the Cold Crush Brothers, pose for the camera and are captured performing in front of adoring crowds.
Conzo was a teenager when he started documenting the scene in the Bronx. Cooper is known for her extensive recording of the graffiti-writing scene in New York. For her part, Beckman was a music photographer in Britain, having shot the fledgling punk scene for magazines and having created three Police album covers before she moved to New York in 1982 to immerse herself in the hip-hop scene.
It’s no surprise the cultural movement is getting its own show, over the years it has consistently cropped up on the art world’s radar through various outlets (see Hip-Hop Artist Switzz Beatz to Curate Booths at SCOPE Miami Beach, This Tumblr Features Mashups of Hip-Hop and High Art, Street Artist Jay Shells Paints Hip-Hop-Inspired Mural in Brooklyn).
Listening stations appear alongside the photographs as well as ephemera like flyers promoting performances by the exhibition’s featured artists.
“Hip-Hop Revolution” is on view at the Museum of the City of New York April 1 through September 13, 2015.
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