For a decade and a half, Mike Schrieber has documented the greatest era in rap music. He boasts some of the most iconic shots of Mos Def and Nas, plus photos that make you say “Huh?!” like the scenes of Flavor Flav and A Bathing Ape’s Nigo beside a spray-painted shutter. He manages to display a completely honest but rarely seen side of his subject, especially in the case of Pimp C. captured alongside his father. Similarly, he shows Styles P in the supermarket, suggesting that his subjects are entirely at ease under his lens. Mostly shot with his first camera; a Pentax K1000 full of black and white film, Schrieber’s photos are striking and thought-provoking, unlike the brashness of much of today’s hip hop photography.
Featured in magazines like Rolling Stone, Esquire, New York Magazine, Vibe, XXL, Slam, Trace and Spin, the self-taught photographer has also shot campaigns for Mountain Dew and AND-1. But with a degree in anthropology, his interests outside of music have seen him capture scenes of prisoners in Angola and street children in Jamaica. Though his work spans cultures and continents, Schrieber has become admired for his hip hop photography and the way he captures artists in such a human way. Towards the end of Russell Jones’ life, he captured some of the most candid portraits of the rapper laughing and smiling; a far cry from the often-exaggerated, wild-eyed shots of Ol’ Dirty Bastard.
The following images and stories are taken from Mike Schrieber’s first book, True Hip Hop, released in 2010. You can get signed copies from his website, www.mikeschreiber.com.