Chi Modu: "I got to know Mobb Deep and them around my friends at Loud Records and we were always cool. I did this as part of the shoot for their first album cover. Mobb Deep means a crew, so I wanted to have their whole crew in there somehow, but still have the focus on the two stars.
"This shot was taken on the rooftop of the Queensbridge Projects. I had spent time over there with Nas when Nas was 18, so I’m pretty familiar with that neighborhood. But it’s not somewhere I go without letting people know I’m coming. You know—one of those areas.
What I learned that day in QB, which was pretty remarkable, was that I didn’t really see any adults around. I felt the same thing with Nas. I can’t call them kids—they weren’t really kids anymore—but it felt like kids who were raising themselves.
"So we went up to the rooftop, and back then they had housing police. So when I’m up there the housing police roll up on us—as the police often do at photo shoots. They don’t quite know what’s going on, and they’re a little nervous.
"I didn’t have a location vehicle and a rack of clothing, so it almost looked like we were all sorta hanging out together. Except for my camera—when they see the camera, that tends to be the one thing that gives it away. You wouldn’t have that kind of camera if you were just wilding out. So finally they let us stay and finish up our shoot.
"What I learned that day in QB, which was pretty remarkable, was that I didn’t really see any adults around. I felt the same thing with Nas. I can’t call them kids—they weren’t really kids anymore—but it felt like kids who were raising themselves.
"So when I was looking at what they were writing, and the genius of what they were seeing and saying, I was blown away. And here I am the college guy, like I’m the one who’s been trained, and I’m not putting together the language to that level. So for me it was a bit of a whoah! You’ve gotta be a little bit humble, cause these guys are for real."