Joe Conzo Jr. 'Born in the Bronx'
Apr 24, 2021 | 6pm
*PLEASE NOTE THE IN-PERSON EVENT IS SOLD OUT and there are no additional seats available. However, we will be live streaming the event. Watch the artist talk below or click here
Join photographer Joe Conzo Jr. as he presents his iconic body of work documenting the birth of hip hop in the Bronx and the rerelease of his book Born in the Bronx: A Visual History of the Birth of Hip Hop. Conzo will be joined by Hip Hop pioneer and legend GrandmasterCaz.
Hip hop first became a part of the mainstream music industry in the early 1980s, when major record labels released albums from such accessible groups as Run DMC and the Sugarhill Gang. But the true origins of one of the most powerful pop-cultural influences in the world are in the spontaneous, progressive musical culture that grew out of tough Bronx neighborhoods of the 1970s and led to a renaissance of poetry, music, and fashion.
Through years of research, writer and curator Johan Kugelberg has pulled together the scattered remains of a movement that never had its eye on posterity. The book includes the improvisational artwork of previously unpublished street flyers of the era, Polaroids buried for decades in basements across the Bronx, and testimonials from influential figures such as Tony Tone, LA Sunshine, and Charlie Chase. Through the work of pioneering hip-hop photographer Joe Conzo–the man The New York Times calls “the chronicler who took hip hop’s baby pictures”–Born in the Bronx presents a unique introduction to an explosive and experimental period in music history.
Conzo co-authored Born In The Bronx: A Visual Record of the Early Days of Hip Hop in 2007, which has long been out of print. This new expanded edition is published by 1XRUN. Copies of the book will be available here
Joe Conzo Jr.
The New York Times, heralded Joe Conzo Jr. as “The Man Who Took Hip-Hop’s Baby Pictures.” The long and perilous journey of his photographic images had finally captured the gaze of mainstream America. Born and raised in the Bronx, Mr. Conzo acquired a passion for photography as a young boy attending the Agnes Russell School on the campus of Columbia University. He continued his formal artistic education at the School of Visual Arts (NYC). He also received certification as a Combat Medic. Later, he would join the New York Fire Department as an Emergency Medical Technician. It was his role as an EMT that delivered him to the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001. All the while, he continued his photography and published a seminal book on hip hop culture that has received worldwide acclaim —“Born In The Bronx: A Visual Record of the Early Days of Hip Hop” (2007). In 2008, this entire collection of images became part of a permanent archive housed at Cornell University. The digitization of over 10,000 of Mr. Conzo’s film images has already begun—progress can be viewed at the Cornell University Library’s website. This collection is regarded by genre experts and academia as an important lens into the roots of Hip Hop culture, the Urban NYC landscape of the 70’s and 80’s, and an integral source for any serious discourse on the movement.
Curtis Fisher, better known by his stage name Grandmaster Caz and formerly Casanova Fly, is an American rapper and DJ from the Bronx who helped form the art of rap in its infancy in the 1970s. Fisher first encountered hip hop in 1974 at a Kool DJ Herc outdoor party. He soon bought his own equipment and teamed up with JDL to form the duo, Notorious Two, around 1977. During this period, he became the first person to perform both DJ and MC duties. Fisher and JDL later joined The Cold Crush Brothers in 1979. A standing member of The Cold Crush Brothers, he has also worked as a celebrity tour guide for the Hush Hip Hop Tours in New York City. A prolific songwriter, he released the book Written! in 2015, a collection of his original lyrics. Fisher is a board member of The Universal Federation for the Preservation of Hip Hop Culture.
IMAGES: © Joe Conzo Jr.