It's funny to think that when photographer Jamil GS took JAY-Z's first press shots in 1995, he didn't know who the musician was (nor did anyone outside of Brooklyn at the time), but obviously a lot has changed in the decades that have passed since. Today, these images are a part of hip-hop history, marking the beginning for the rapper and photographer – and they're available to own via the Jamil's Dope Hip-Hop shop.
At the time of the shoot, most photographers covering hip-hop artists weren't "of the culture." Jamil explained to Highsnobiety, "most of them were used to covering rock or pop." Back then, "hip-hop photography was gritty, but I wanted to show people dignified, the way I saw them." So with a love for the music and a background in fashion, he set out to empower his subjects. "I wanted to take the technical skills I knew and bring them to the street," he explains.
Nowhere is this approach more clearly and effectively expressed than in his photographs of JAY-Z, and now art and hip-hop fans can purchase a rare slice of history with posters and tees priced at €59 (approximately $72) fr0m Jamil's Dope Hip Hop shop. The series includes shots from the historic shoot in Brooklyn where JAY posed in front of his Lexus from the “Dead Presidents” video. The photographer recalled that JAY brought a custom-made vanity plate made from cardboard which they gaffer-taped on top of the existing plate.
For the first T-shirt of the series, Jamil teamed up with Nigerian-American artist Emeka Alams from Gold Coast Trading Co. The design features a mix of New York boldness, Nigerian motifs and BTS notes, and technical details (for the analog photo nerds). In an effort to keep it local all products were made in Jamil’s hometown Copenhagen.