Hip Hop in its heyday: review by Sara Darling
I may be biassed, but 1973 was a vintage year – not only my year of birth, but recognised as the start of hip hop! To celebrate this iconic 50 year anniversary, music photographer and documentary filmmaker, Peter Spirer has produced ‘Rhyme and Reason’ that showcases exclusive images and content from 1994 to 1997.
Although I can’t say I arrived into the world loving rap – my mum was more of a Cliff Richard fan, I must admit I have definitely enjoyed getting my groove on to some of the masters over the years.
This hefty, coffee table tome, with a foreword by Ice T, showcases more than 130 of Spirer’s previously unseen and unpublished photographs taken in the mid-90s when he was jetting around the world interviewing the most prominent global hip hop artists for a documentary. More than just a book of portraits, it delves behind the scenes, and has artist quotes and bios which help demystify the artists behind the bling.
Getting backstage and VIP access to places that die hard fans can only dream of, the images were shot on a medium format Rolleiflex camera, and are a personal vision of Spirer’s relationship with these stars and includes previously unseen images of Wu-Tang Clan playing in Staten Island; Biggie at home, the infamous,‘ Jack The Rapper’ convention involving a rowdy Death Row, who was papped causing chaos, along with personal outtakes of Redman and Erick Sermon freestyling at a block party in Newark. You even get to see Puffy having his beard trimmed in this anthology that humanises these cultural icons.
This is the perfect gift for anyone who has an interest in hip hop, which not only has become a cultural movement, but a representation of politics, class and race; and as hip hop commemorates its 50th anniversary in 2023 it seems an obvious time to reflect.
The Book of Rhyme & Reason: Hip-hop 1994–1997 by Peter Spirer is out now from Reel Art Press priced £39.95