Chi Modu attributes his success as a hip-hop photographer to following two simple rules: 1) Always wear a beeper. 2) Never turn down an assignment. Of course it also helped to have an artist’s eye, a cool yet professional demeanor, and basic proficiency with handguns.
As the director of photography and all-around top shotta for The Source magazine during the 1990s, Chi shot numerous covers and developed strong relationships with artists like Tupac, Biggie, Snoop, and Wu-Tang Clan.
Born in Nigeria and raised in New Jersey, Modu's gig at The Source allowed to him to build an extraordinary archive of images from what he calls hip-hop’s “defining years.” Which also happens to be the name of the exhibition of his work that opens tonight at Culture Fix gallery in New York City.
“It’s about time that we all revisit what we did,” he says. “I feel it’s important to get these photos and these strories out. Our generation, what we came up doing, really changed the world in a lot of ways. For a while a lot of us who worked in hip-hop tried to distance themselves from what they did, almost in an attempt to reinvent. But I think now we’ve come to a place where you can actually be proud of what we did.”
In that spirit, we asked Chi to tell the stories behind his iconic images of 2Pac, The Notorious B.I.G., Snoop Dogg, O.D.B., and more. If you thought the pictures were crazy, wait till you hear about the photo shoots.