'Hip-Hop, Conscious, Unconscious': 50 years of Hip Hop in NY.

Don’t miss the third editorial in ‘Hip Hop 50’, Urban Jungle’s column celebrating half a century since the birth of Hip Hop.

One of the most significant and important exhibitions dedicated to Hip Hop is currently underway at Fotografiska on Park Avenue, entitled “Hip-Hop, Conscious, Unconscious”: more than 200 shots of the most famous rappers in history, from the dawn of the cultural movement to the present day.

Backstage photos, portraits, stolen shots: the exhibition takes us back in time, to a NY where crime proliferated and money was never enough, but creativity was at its highest, capturing the energy of the artists who made the Hip Hop movement great.

Co-curated by Sally Berman and Sacha Jenkins, Chief Creative Officer of Mass Appeal, Hip-Hop: Conscious, Unconscious presents images ranging from iconic elements of visual culture to rare and intimate portraits of the biggest stars, from legendary pioneers such as Nas, Tupac, Notorious B.I.G and Mary J. Blige to modern icons such as Nicki Minaj, Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B.

The Beastie Boys In a shot by Josh-Cheuse – Radio-City, NY 1985

The works on display address various themes that have affected the world of Hip Hop over the years, such as the role of women in the industry, gang rivalries, the stylistic diversity between West and East Coast, and a period report on the B-Boys who populated the streets of NY from the 1970s to the 1990s.

The exhibition also highlights the value of women in the rap music industry; among the most significant shots is a portrait of Queen Latifah, whose feminist anthems ‘Ladies First’ and ‘U.N.I.T.Y’ denounced the rise of aggression and misogyny in Hip Hop lyrics in the early 1990s.

Queen Latifah photography by Jesse Frohman for Sky Magazine – 1990

Among the most significant shots:

De La Soul outside the Apollo Theater in 1993 in a shot by David Corio


Salt n Pepa NY’s Lower East Side – 1986


Tupac, photographed in a straitjacket by Shawn Mortensen in 1993


Missy Elliott, photographed by Christian Witkin for Spinn Magazine – NY 1998


Wyclef Jean and Lauryn Hill – Fugees, photographed by Lisa Leone during the filming of the video ‘Vocal’, East Harlem, NY – 1993


Notorious B.I.G. in a shot by Geoffroy de Boismenu – NY, January 1994
Mary J. Blige photographed by Lisa Leone – NYC, 1991
Public Enemy immortalized by Glen Friedman in 1986 – Lafayette Bleecker, NY, 1986
Megan Thee Stallion posing for The Cut magazine, photo by Campbell Addy
Tyler, The Creator posing for WSJ Magazine, photo by Campbell Addy – 2022