Contact High is an essential new photography book edited by longtime journalist (and FADER contributor) Vikki Tobak. Billed as “a visual archive of hip-hop,” it pairs legendary photos from the genre’s 40 years with unedited contact sheets and commentary from the equally iconic photographers who took them. It’s a clever and multidimensional look at history, with images once relegated to the cutting room floor adding color and context to just how superstars — and the stories about them — were made.
Janette Beckman, photographer: “When A Tribe Called Quest first came out, it was quite revolutionary. It helped usher in a new era of Afrocentrism in music and also had a major impact on style. Their attitude seemed to be about peace and love and coming together rather than battling each other, and I wanted to express that in the shoot. We wanted to get a photo in nature to express those elements but they didn’t have much time, so I decided to take them to the Chelsea flower district, the closest place I could find with tropical-looking trees in NYC. The shot, taken with my Hasselblad square format camera, was taken for a book I was doing with Bill Adler called Rap: Portraits and Lyrics of a Generation of Black Rockers. Jarobi’s little brother was in the shot too. They were all so young!”