The Golden Age of Rap Captured on Film

Studio 360

Last week, Sideshow predictedthat 2015 will be hip-hop’s best year. We stand by our forecast. But,lest we forget, the 1980s was hip-hop’s gilded decade —-ten full years of innovation, star power, and style. The Museum of the City of New York agrees, and has curated a photography exhibit, “Hip-Hop Revolution,” dedicated to this fertile (and fresh) period.

The show, featuring work by Janette Beckman, Joe Conzo, andMartha Cooper revisits the street style of yore, capturing the infancy of a cultural movement, bucket hats, chains, spandex, and all. Busta Rhymes, a pre-Hollywood Queen Latifah and LL Cool J make appearances, alongside some names that have since fallen into obscurity. The snapshots are like childhood photos of distant family: the forefathers (and mothers) of today’s hip-hop, well before they could have imagined the genre’s cultural dominance.

This brand of nostalgia isn’t going away, as the announcementof a Hip-Hop Hall of Fame, to open in Harlem next year, suggests.If these photos are any indication, hip-hop isn’t what it used to be —- even if,sometimes, we wish it were.

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