” Of the artists I liked the most..people like Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. They’re my friends.” These are words from legendary hip hop photographer Chi Modu. He first picked up a camera while a student at Rutgers, which would eventually land him a job at The Source, known as the Bible of hip hop. From there, he developed relationships with the likes of Mary J. Blige, LL Cool J, Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. most of whom were not famous yet. In the latest episode of podcast What A Time To Be Online, Chi Modu breaks down the defining moment of when he knew photography was for him. “I’ve had one job in my life and I was working for a real estate developer out of college and I remember this like it was yesterday. I couldn’t stand the job. I liked the people. I didn’t like the job it wasn’t for me. And Nelson Mandela was released from prison and they had a parade in New York and I saw it on the back page of the New York Post, and I was like I’m supposed to be there.” The interview also weighs in on important discussions in the photography community such as whether or not to use a watermark, and telling authentic stories through photos. The legendary hip hop photographer would touch on how he had a responsibility as an artist to take the right photos and not take advantage of the images of these artists.
Today marks exactly 19 years since the passing of Notorious B.I.G. On this day in 1997, he was shot and killed from a drive by shooting in Los Angeles. Just three years after the release of his debut album, Ready To Die. 16 days after his death, we would see the release of his sophomore album Life After Death, which rose to No. 1 on the US charts and became certified diamond in 2000. RIP Notorious B.I.G. Listen to the podcast hosted by Montreal-based photographer Naskedimi and Chi Modu below.
Notorious B.I.G. March 9, 1997.