Chi Modu, Legendary Hip Hop Photographer, Dies at 54

Born in Nigeria in July 1966, Modu was elevated in New Jersey. He attended Rutgers…

Born in Nigeria in July 1966, Modu was elevated in New Jersey. He attended Rutgers College, graduating in 1989 with a degree in economics. It was at Rutgers that he began to dabble in pictures and on leaving school he researched the medium at Manhattan’s International Center of Photography. His to start with occupation as a photographer was at Harlem-centered New York Amsterdam News.

In the early 1990s, he joined The Supply, a single of the premier hip hop magazines, and rose to turn out to be the director of photography. Motivated by the likes of Roy Decarava and André Kertész, he was identified for capturing candid, unguarded visuals of artists, many of whom experienced never ever been shot professionally in advance of. In all, Modu shot 30 addresses for The Source during what lots of take into consideration to be hip hop’s golden age. His photos documented both of those artists at the peak of their powers such as Biggie Smalls and Tupac as perfectly as capturing mysterious up-and-coming functions who would afterwards go on to dominate the charts and the lifestyle in the 2000s and over and above.

In addition to his operate for The Resource, he shot images on album handles for a range of artists such as Snoop Dogg (Doggystyle), Strategy Person (Tical), Mobb Deep (The Infamous) and Black Moon (Enta Da Stage). He also labored for Rolling Stone and The New York Times.

In 2016, he published his celebrated photobook Tupac Shakur: Uncategorized, which showcased pics of the rapper from their 1st meeting in Atlanta in 1994 (visuals from which were being later employed as the go over for an situation of Rolling Stone in 2012) to his signing for Demise Row information 9 months ahead of his death in 1996.

“There have been no barriers amongst us. He was ready to let his guard down, so I could exhibit the human driving the headlines,” Modu explained to The Guardian about his do the job with Tupac.

“It could have been uncomfortable for the reason that Biggie was my mate and I photographed him far too. But they both of those favored me and I appreciated both of those of them,” he added.

This article at first appeared in THR.com.