More than 400 images from the 1980s to the early 2000s detail the “standout moments” of the rise of Run DMC, Grandmaster Flash, Jay Z and many more artists, before It Became a Billion-Dollar Industry
Bill Adler never set out to be a professional collector; it’s just part of who he is. And by the time he shut the doors of the Eyejammie Fine Arts Gallery in New York in 2007, he had amassed a collection of more than 400 photographs representing just over two decades of hip-hop history.
“Photography to me is really a magical medium,” says Adler, a music journalist and critic. “It’s just stunning.” A purveyor of hip-hop since the early 1980s, Adler encountered the music genre in his reporting and eventually embraced it as his journalistic beat.
But it was during his six-year stint as director of publicity at Def Jam Recordings when he developed the relationships with the photographers of hip-hop—who he commissioned for promotional material—that would give him the opportunity to open a gallery devoted solely to the images of the genre’s pioneers.
Filed away in drawers in his New York City basement since he closed the gallery, Adler’s vintage hip-hop photographs, representing the work of both amateurs and famous professional photogs such as four-time book author Ricky Powell, have a second chance at life as part of the collections at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
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Text By Katie Nodjimbadem