The best of Marther cooper, jamel shabazz, ricky powell

A homage to Marther Cooper, Jamel Shabazz and Ricky Powell's photography of the earliest hip-hop culture.


Words by: Charlie Jones

Martha Hooper discusses her book ‘Hip Hop Files’ and how she came to photograph the earliest graffitti artists, break dancers and hip-hop artists.

In this interview Martha’s long time friend Ricky Powell talks about his discovery of the Beastie Boys and their relationship from there on in.

ricky powell: Born and raised in New York City, Ricky Powell is a legendary photographer who specializes in the environmental portrait. He graduated with an AA in Liberal Arts from LaGuardia Community College and a B.S. in Physical Education from Hunter College. Though Powell initially rose to fame because of his relationship with the Beastie Boys, he is well-known for his intimate photographs that have been featured in The New York Times, The New York Post, The Daily News, The Village Voice, TIME, Newsweek, VIBE, The Source, Rolling Stone, and more.

Powell considers the relationship between the photographer and the photograph to be “a chemical connection of some sort”.

For two decades, Ricky Powell has prowled the streets of his native New York, toured the world with hip hop’s biggest acts, and full-on crashed celebrity-studded parties on both coasts. Equipped with only his wits and an instamatic camera, Powell elbowed his way into the center of the scene with no shame. “It’s for public access,” Powell could be heard, pleading for an interview with a pizza shop owner on his cult cable TV show, “Rappin’ with the Rickster.”

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