Music history has been captured aurally on a variety of mediums whether it’s analog tape that goes straight to vinyl, compact disc or cassette. Visually, it is still important to preserve these key moments. While the movement is going on, photography trail blazers like Janette Beckman, Joe Conzo, Glenn E. Friedman, and even Professor Puffington aka Ricky Powell have captured these moments while they were happening. Key times preserved forever on film. From their lens to our eyes, these historians and many others who were “there” (there being wherever the movement is happening), help keep the culture alive through their photos. In this case, there for Bronx born photographer Lisa Leone was the NYC, Paris, and Los Angeles in the early 1990’s.
“Hip Hop was an amalgamation of disciplines that coexisted and collectively changed the world we knew. Today its divided existence pales to its once innocent intentions of being acknowledged. Lisa’s photography captures a culture in transition; it is through her lens that one can appreciate the journey of the young artists who helped pave the way for generations to come.” —Mare139
Here I Am is the first discourse of the photographs of Leone from that period. She captures some of hip hop’s best moments in this edition, which include, but are not limited to Nas in his first studio recording (which would go on to be the classic Illmatic), scene stalwart Debi Mazur hanging in the West Village, Grandmaster Flash rocking it at a Rocksteady reunion, Wyclef Jean on the video set for “Vaocab” or Snoop Dogg on his first video set. Leone was there, and these defining moments of the culture are captured forever by her. The book is another great look into part of the foundation of the culture that has influenced a generation while simultaneously shaping the history as well. If you don’t know your past, you can’t know your future. Leone’s telling photo essays show you where hip hop has been, and surely where it was headed to during the 1990’s. She also has a exhibit at The Bronx Museum of Arts until Jan. 11, 2015 with photographs from this very book. A bonus if you’re spending the holidays anywhere NYC.
Buy the book here.