Pharcyde – 1995.
On the set of Spike Jonze’s classic video “Drop”.
New photo exhibition documents hip-hop’s moments of truth.
Before hip-hop was an industry, it was a community.
THEN, a new solo show from photographer Lisa Leone, is a deeply personal portrayal of the last days of hip-hop’s innocence, of a culture caught between an intimate past and a global future.
Born in the Bronx and raised throughout New York City, Lisa Leone has been surrounded by hip-hop culture for virtually her entire life. By the late eighties, as a widely published photographer, she was in a unique position to capture a behind the-scenes perspective on the spirit of collaboration that fueled hip-hop’s early artistic triumphs. “To see a young Nas in the studio with Q-Tip, Premier and Large Professor was not only inspiring,” she reflects on one of the candid photos included in the show, “it is ‘the decisive moment’.”
THEN explores a series of such moments through the eyes of the young artists that would go on to become the hip-hop generation’s biggest stars: Snoop Dogg, Lauryn Hill, Mary J. Blige, Wyclef Jean, Run DMC, Nas, A Tribe Called Quest, Rosie Perez, the Roots, Queen Latifah and many others.
But these are not mere portraits. Each image captures a unique interaction between an individual and their environment, and is supported with text drawn from new interviews with the subjects themselves.
Nas “Illmatic Session” 1993
“It was still fresh and we, the generation of that movement, still dictated what it was and meant to us and not the mass media. MTV wasn’t calling the shots. We were still telling them what the rules were.”
– Rosie Perez
“THEN is a testament to the natural eye and passion of a real New Yorker, presented now through the collected three decades of her work and experience.” – Eric Haze
“No one…can fail to be moved by Lisa Leone’s evocative portraits of Hip Hop legends captured in the midst of their young lives…set in those moody South Bronx scenes of abandonment that was their home.” – Henry Chalfant, producer of “Style Wars”
HVW8 Art + Design Gallery