The Picture / The Story

Janette Beckman: Run-DMC

10/05/2017

Janette Beckman

Run-DMC & Posse, Hollis Queens, 1984

THE PICTURE | THE STORY

“In 1984, the British style magazine The Face asked me to photograph the up-and-coming rap group called Run-DMC. In a time before cell phones and emails, I called the contact phone number they gave me (Jam Master Jay's home), and Jay arranged to meet me at the Hollis, Queens subway stop.

I took my Hasselblad camera on the train, backs ready-loaded. Jay met me at the station, and we walked over to meet the group and some friends on a tree-lined street. It was a middle-class neighborhood, houses with backyards, so different from the 'Boogie Down Bronx.'
Run-DMC and friends were perfectly styled, wearing Adidas, Kangol hats, and Cazal glasses. They were just hanging out on a spring day.  I had my camera ready and started shooting.
The photo seems like a moment in time.

Russell Simmons said about Hollis:
“It's not quite middle-class but it's close. Everyone there has an upwardly-mobile attitude. No matter how middle-class it gets, though, there'll always be a street culture. The people from the neighborhood are real proud of Run-DMC.” 

This photo of Run-DMC is important, the times were changing in hip-hop. A group could come from a middle-class neighborhood and rap about their lives. Different stories from the groups coming out of the Bronx."

- Janette Beckman