This book features over 150 rarely seen striking images documenting the rise of hip hop in the early 1980s, taken by French photographer Sophie Bramly. Bramly lived in New York during this period and became firmly imbedded in the emergent scene. The book features many stunning and intimate images of a star-studded roll call of legendary hip-hop figures, many of whom were just relatively known at the time, and while all in their ascendency. These include Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmixer DST, Jazzy Jay, Red Alert, Grandmaster Melle Mel, Kurtis Blow, Lisa Lee, the Fat Boys, Run-DMC, Beastie Boys & many more.
Bramly was at all times conscious that hip hop was becoming a fully-formed cultural force rather than just a musical fashion and spent many hours photographing all four essential elements of this new world: the emcees, the deejays, the graffiti artists and the breakdancers. Here you will see legendary graffiti artists captured at work and play (such as Keith Haring, Dondi, Futura, Phase One, Zephyr, Lady Pink), and breakdancers including members of Magnificent Force, Dynamic Breakers, and the Rock Steady Crew.
Bramly photographs also chronicle the desolate city landscapes from which hip-hop came. She also documents the energy and excitement of the young fans who first embraced hip-hop as much at the same time as capturing the crucial behind-the-scenes players (Bill Laswell, Bernard Zekri, Rick Rubin, Fun Gallery co-owner Patti Astor, etc) who would all help define the world of hip-hop as an important cultural force that would last until the present day.
Finally, this book also includes a bonus section documenting the rise of hip-hop in Europe. Bramly returned to France in 1984 to find herself once again at the centre of a new cultural phenomenon, helping bring the first US hip-hop artists to Europe including Fab Five Freddy, Futura 2000, Rocksteady Crew and many more.
One of the curious facts about hip-hop’s history is how little photographic documentation exists of the culture’s early years. Come the dawn of the Eighties, a handful of talented photographers finally began to pay attention, most notably Henry Chalfant, Martha Cooper, and Joe Conzo. In retrospect, it’s clear that each of them focused on a particular element or two of the multiform explosion of creativity that came to be called hip-hop. Henry zeroed in on graffiti. Martha devoted herself to graffiti and breakdancing. And the heart of Joe’s work documents the career of the Cold Crush Brothers. Uniquely Sophie Bramly, unlike the others, managed between 1982 and 1984 to put her arms around all four of the hip-hop elements: the emcees, deejays, graffiti artists, and breakdancers.