Everything I did so far for my portfolio is music photography and I shot personalities such as Snoop Dogg, R. Kelly, Ja Rule, 50 Cent, Dead Prez and others. It got to a point where I felt I had to branch of in a different direction. Since I am kind of good with women and they tend to like me I thought to give it a shot. I got the beautiful Sofia in the Play Studios and you can finally see the results here.
A big thank you to the whole team:
(photo by Paul Pack)
I first shot Dead Prez in 2010 when they were touring in Hamburg, Germany. In early 2013 they came back to Germany and I handed them the old photos (read here). From that moment on we became friends and every time they make it overseas or we happen to be in the same city we meet up. This video was recorded summer 2013 in Brooklyn, New York right before they head to the airport for a week in Senegal.
T.Parris and me been friends for a long time. On my last trip to New York we linked up again, and after helping me accomplish several projects we also took the time to shoot some photos of him. On one set I made him climb the YMCA Harlem building. On top of the building he revealed how he is scared of heights, I still made him climb up some small latter all the way to the top and everything worked out. Here are some photos and also a video where he speaks about how we met, and working with me. Enjoy.
During my last stay in New York I went to this underground hip hop spot in Harlem, where they sell mixtapes, DVDs, magazines, and hold local battles. I forgot the name of the spot but it was a little bit up from 125th street on the west side. I was there with my good friend T. Parris – I will come back to his story later down the road – and he asked me “You want to shoot AZ?” Now I am thinking about the rapper AZ from Brooklyn. I looked at him and asked “AZ? The rapper?” – “No, Azie!” and Parris pointed to a magazine with Azie Faison on the cover.
Azie Faison is a big street legend in Harlem and a former drug dealer, who made over $100,000 weekly selling cocaine in Harlem during the 1983 – 1990. Remember that Jay-Z / Roc-A-Fella Records movie ‘Paid in Full’? Its based on his life. So I agreed, if he can make it happen, why not. A couple of phone calls later he said it was lined up.
Some days passed and we was talking about where to do it, so I told him I want to do it in Harlem, an environment where he feels comfortable. People told me pretty quick that I need to do it somewhere quite, because he don’t want to be around too much attention and where to many people are. So I suggested some grimy back alley. Harlem changed a lot since the 80s, specially the last 10 years. So when Azie heard me suggestion on the other side of the phone he simply replied “Harlem is still grimy?”
We made up a spot and decided to meet there. It was a day full of rain and snow. I thought he might cancel because it was snowing like crazy outside. When I got there, he was already there, sitting on the backseat of a car. Some guy approached us, introduced himself and asked where we want to do it. I picked a spot real fast, and he told me Azie is waiting in the car, he will pull closer to the spot.
After Azie got out the car, he looked at me and said he can not do it at that particular spot. He knows somebody that is “selling” from there, so he don’t want to be all up in his business and specially with cameras. I picked a different spot minutes later and he posted up. Not only due to his weight but also to his appearance he has a pretty crazy presents in front of you. While it was pouring water on him, he stayed relaxed and took all the time in the world, as if there was no rain at all, or it just didn’t bother him at all. He sure been through worse, you can already tell by the scar going from one side of his head to the other side. He got shot a several times in his head. They had to cut his head open to remove the bullets.
After I was done with the photos he asked me if I have some questions for him but I declined. “No interview?”, he asked. Parris told him we just wanted to take some photos and don’t want to be all up in his business, since he never really broke down his story in detail, but he just laughed and said “I don’t care, for you, anything.” After that he said he really appreciate me taking my time to see him and take some photos … like I did something for him. After that we all went back to his car, where he stick around for another good 20 minutes and just spoke about common interests.
During the whole time we did the shoot, there came a bunch of people by. Every single one, no matter if old or young recognized him and shouted “Whats up Azie?”, “ACE!” or “Azie!!” and he greeted each of them, asked some how there families are or just nodded at others. I experienced him as a funny and calm guy. Thank you Azie for taking your time.
The day after I came back to Hamburg from New York, Dead Prez came to town to perform at a local club called Logo. Julian, also known as InkDifferent in the Tattoo world, told me about it and asked me to join him. Dead Prez been to Hamburg before, back in 2010, and last time they been here, I went with them to the studio and we shot a couple of photos for a german clothing line called “Mahagony”. I took those photos to print some canvas as a present. Julian, his girl and myself got to the venue kind of early, Dead Prez wasn’t there yet. After they walked in they went straight to the Backstage room, I gave them a couple of minutes and went right in there. Thanks to security (there was none, just a sign to keep the door shut) I got in pretty easy.
“Good evening Gentleman!” was my approach when I walked in, DJ Mikeflo recognized me straight away (at least I think so). I told them that I shot them 3 years ago, they clearly remembered and that I now have some prints for them. I pulled out the canvas and passed them along. All three of them were super happy. M1 told me that nobody ever done that for them in there 20 years in the music business. After all the happiness I asked them to give Julian a drop as a tattoo artist. Before they agreed they asked if he is dope, because they are really thinking about getting some art done. I showed them my arm and they were blown away. At this point the show had to start and they went on stage.
After a great show (!!) M1 and Mikeflo spent some (endless) time with the fans, signing stuff, talking to them and selling their new album. After the club calmed down again, I introduced them to Julian, and Dead Prez decided to get tatted … on this tour stop! So we made an appointment for next morning 8 am since they had to leave town by noon. 8 am comes … nothing happened. I been into the hip hop world, so this is normal. I thought they not going to come past … but then 30 minutes later my phone rings. Mikeflo and Stic are ready! I passed them the address, they jumped in a cab and we met at the photo studio where we shot the photos 3 years ago. From there we walked over to “Alte Liebe Tattoo” where Julian works. After Mikeflo took a look at the sketch that Julian made over night, he decided really quick what he wants to get.
In the meantime I went back to the studio with Stic to shoot some more photos. Due to the fact that my girl is from Ethiopia, he told me a lot of his trip he wants to take there at the end of the year and take part of a marathon. We shot a couple of photos and went back to the tattoo studio were Julian was finishing up. After that I took Mikeflo back to the photo studio to do a little session. After we finished, we all went to a place in the area to get some soup and from there on it was time to leave and jump straight on the bus.
Stic told me they had a great tour stop, and here are some of the photos I took during the stop from the shoot and in-between. Thank you to Jim Gramming for Assisting me during the shoot … and thank you to Dead Prez. I got some more photos for the next time … until then.
When Snoop needs some artwork / flyer and he has creative control (and not some label), he knows who to contact.
Yeah … daily posts … whatever, here is an update. KRIS is part of a famous group in Germany called Revolverheld. This year he took some time off the group (they are back recording right now) and released his first solo album. The first single featuring Dante Thomas is called “Diese Tage”, it actually came out a while ago, and I am not sure if I ever showcased this, anyway, the other day he told me it sold over 100,000 copies! He is about to release his second single “Geflashed”, I also shot the image. I can’t show it around right now, but here is a little preview of a different image but similar setting.