I think everyone has experienced hearing a certain song and being knocked back to when you heard it the first time (or over and over and over to the point where it became the anthem for a period in your life). When I was living in NYC in the late 80’s you could not open your window without hearing the squeals of Public Enemy’s “Don’t Believe the Hype.” I may not be able to bust out a head spin or a butterfly kick but if you saw my last batch of paintings “Into the Woodz,” you know I have a real fondness for old school hip hop — the music, the fashion, the culture.
A lot of that is perfectly captured in the photography of Jamel Shabazz. I love how proud everyone looks in his photographs, as if he’s telling each of them how spectacular they are right before he snaps the shutter. His book Back In The Days is one of my favorites. (A Time Before Crack is great too.) Reviewers call his work “urban street photography” but I swear it’s more personal than that — when you look at his images there isn’t an observer’s distance from the subject matter, there is a real affection for everything he points his camera at. What can I say, the stuff really moves me.
Which is why I’m so excited about his new show at Dirty Pilot gallery. Shabazz picked up his first camera at the age of 15 and has been shooting for three decades now. Dirty Pilot is showing some great work and even has three signed, limited edition prints (10 only!) of his work for $500.