As legend has it, the birth of hip-hop occurred at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx on August 11th, 1973. During a party in the apartment building’s rec room, which had been advertised on index cards and drew in a couple of hundred people, DJ Kool Herc delivered a set that “was completely against the grain of anything that one would hear at the typical house party in the early ‘70’s,” according to the Source. And with that, the stage was set for the emergence of hip-hop, from a grassroots social movement to a gamechanging phenomenon. 

That was 50 years ago, and now New York City (and the world) is celebrating the milestone anniversary. Throughout this year, there will be a number of tributes to hip-hop, and one expansive exhibit on the topic has already opened in New York. Hip-Hop: Conscious, Unconscious at Fotografiska (located at 281 Park Ave South, Manhattan) explores the genre, and, along with their partners Mass Appeal, they have created “the definitive destination to celebrate hip-hop’s global impact on visual expression.” 

1981 - Charlie Ahearn - Grand Master Flash, Debbie Harry, Fab 5 Freddy, Chris Stein of Blondie and friend (1981)
Grand Master Flash, Debbie Harry, Fab 5 Freddy, Chris Stein of Blondie and friend, 1981. (Charlie Ahearn)
1985 - Josh Cheuse - Beastie Boys Radio City New York (1985)
Beastie Boys outside of Radio City Music Hall, 1985. (Josh Cheuse)
1986 - Glen Friedman - PUBLIC ENEMY - Lafayette & Bleecker, New York City (circa 1986)
Public Enemy at Lafayette and Bleecker, 1986. (Glen Friedman)
1986 - Janette Beckman - Salt n Pepa Lower East Side NYC (1986)
Salt n Pepa on the Lower East Side, 1986. (Janette Beckman)
1990 - Janette Beckman - Tribe Called Quest (1990)
A Tribe Called Quest, 1990. (Janette Beckman)
1993 - Lisa Leone - Wyclef Jean and Lauryn Hill, East Harlem, New York City (1993)
Wyclef Jean and Lauryn Hill, East Harlem, 1993. (Lisa Leone)
1985 - Josh Cheuse - Run DMC-s feet under the table at The Fresh Fest press conference, (1985)
Run DMC's feet under the table at the Fresh Fest presser, 1985. (Josh Cheuse)
1998 - Christian Witkin - Missy Elliott, Photographed for Spin Magazine, New York City (1998)
Missy Elliott, NYC, 1998. (Christian Witkin)
1993 - Danny Clinch - Nas, Queensbridge NY (1993)
Nas, Queensbridge, 1993. (Danny Clinch)
2008 - Clay Patrick McBride - JADAKISS, Brooklyn 2008- (2008)
Jadakiss, Brooklyn, 2008. (Clay Patrick McBride)
1994 - Adama Delphine Fawundu - Old Dirty Bastard on the Mic, Fort Greene Brooklyn (1994)
ODB in Fort Greene, 1994. (Adama Delphine Fawundu)
1994 - Geoffroy de Boismenu - Notorious B.I.G. -01 (1994)
Notorious B.I.G., 1994. (Geoffroy de Boismenu)

“It's easy to forget that there was a time before hip-hop was an industry and before it made money,” said Sacha Jenkins, exhibition co-curator and Chief Creative Officer of Mass Appeal. “It wasn't conscious of itself. It was just existing with young people living their lives, dressing as they did, trying to entertain themselves.” 

The immersive experience features the work of a community of artists who have documented the scene, dating back to the early 1970s. Through over 200 photographs, the exhibit “traces the rise and proliferation of hip-hop through five decades of work from the trailblazing image-makers who helped codify hip-hop as the most influential pop culture movement of its generation.”  

Themes throughout the exhibit include the role of women in hip-hop, its regional and stylistic diversification and rivalries, and more.

Following its time at Fotografiska New York it will travel to international locations, so see it while you can (the exhibit is open now through the end of May).



Fotografiska is located at 281 Park Ave S. Take any of these trains to 23rd Street and it's just a few minutes walk away.

Plan Trip