“These images, which span music, street culture, and hip hop icons from 1982 to 1990, feature entertainers at the breaking point of their careers. The pictures manifest the genius of underground scenes and highlight their influence on today's music scene.”
In the fall of 1982, celebrated photographer of the British music scene Janette Beckman moved to New York City, where she found Hip Hop on the edge of explosion. After a decade underground, the DJs, MCs, b-boys, fly girls, and graff writers were finally getting their due from the downtown crowd. While trains were covered in graffiti and boomboxes were blasting on the corners, DJs were up in the clubs while the dancers rocked the floor. Artists were getting signed and local legends were born. And while others called hip hop a fad, Beckman knew better.
Her photographs transport us back to a time before music videos, marketing departments, and über-stylists took control. The queen of the 80s album cover, Beckman shot the icons of the era: Afrika Bambaataa, GrandMaster Flash and the Furious Five, the Fearless Four, the World Famous Supreme Team, Lovebug Starski, Salt-n-Pepa, Run-DMC, Stetsasonic, UTFO, Roxanne Shante, Sweet T, Jazzy Joyce, Slick Rick, Boogie Down Productions, Eric B. and Rakim, EPMD, NWA, Ice-T, 2 Live Crew, Tone Loc, Gang Starr, Ultramagnetic MCs, Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock, Special Ed, Leaders of the New School, Jungle Brothers, Beastie Boys, Rick Rubin, and countless others. The era was as original as it was innocent, and Beckman’s images remind us of a culture that brought forth The Message before it got Paid in Full.