Navani Knows: Behind the Lens with Photo Rob

There is a certain camaraderie that goes on between people that are involved in the Hip-Hop scene in NYC. I am not referring soley to the artists either, but even with people that document it. You start to see the same faces at the same events and realize there is a bond there: being a fan of dope music. With that comes a certain level of respect. That’s how I came to meet and befriend Photo Rob. I was covering events for Brooklyn Bodega and would see him all the time. But it wasn’t until I covered the 13th Anniversary of the Halftime Show this year that I really got to talk to him. I then found out 1. how much of a fan of Hip-Hop he is 2. How well known/liked he is by the artists he shoots. As I sat there and saw how everyone stopped to say hello, and how familiar he was with everyone’s music, I realized this was more than just a gig for him – Hip-hop was a passion.

He began telling me stories of events he’d covered, artists he’d seen live. There were memorable moments where groups got back together for the first time, or didn’t speak at all. He was in the know! And then my journalistic instincts kicked in and I realized there was a story here. Photo Rob has worked with everyone from Large Professor to De La Soul to Mobb Deep and done album covers for half the Lps I currently listen to. I was excited to hear more about his adventures in hip-hop. Check out what Photo Rob had to say about working with Mobb Deep, getting chased off location with Marco Polo and Torae and being on stage with legendary Rakim in my interview on Culture Vault Radio.

Photo via Robert Adam Mayer

Navani Knows How to be Infamous

I’ve loved two things all my life: books and music. Both always served an escape for me during my childhood and that still holds true today. While I attend many music events and many literary events, it is very rare when they ever coincide. Last night, for the first time they did at the book launch party for famed Queens rapper, Prodigy of Mobb Deep for his autobiographyMy Infamous Life.

I really did not know what to expect when I got to Powerhouse books. Normally, when I come to this venue for a book reading it is a small, low-key intimate setting. This was not the case tonight. Instead, it was the Prodigy show complete with cameramen and a reserved seating area. Hip-Hop journalist extraordinaire intervewed Prodigy  in front of everyone. Mobb Deep records played in the background while one lone mother read a children’s book to her daughter in corner. Bizzare I tell ya.

The night continued and Toure asked a bunch of questions we are already familiar with: his beef with Jay Z, his beef with Nas, how he hooked up with Havoc… all of  this I found unimmpressive especially as Prodigy answered PC for everything. What I did find interesting was what I learned about Prodigy as a man. That he had a fondness for his father despite his flaws (heroine use) and how angry he was growing up because of his fight with sickle cell. I also learned that Prodigy was a huge fan of 2 PAC and saw alot of likenesses in him. He also has access to one of Pac’s long lost notebooks which he treasures.

I’m standing in line to get my book signed and I am trying to think of something clever to say to P, something that would be like inside joke: only people that are true Mobb fans would get. I wanted to prove I was a fan of Mobb since they came out. Wanted to express how I argued against my colleagues on the radio show that Infamous was a classic album. I mean how could they deny an album that helped put New York on the map and whose language left an imprint on the Hip-Hop culture? And how could an album that Q-Tip produced for not be considered note worthy? I wanted to tell “P” how I scoffed when the man in the audience raised his hand to ask if they have ever worked with Q-Tip. Duh! I knew that, cause I’m a fan. What a waste of a question, I wanted to say and then he’d laugh. There we’d be, sharing a chuckle. But NO, instead I got to the front of the line and completely froze up and said nothing. Oh except when he was nice enough to say” Hey, how’s it going?”. I managed to grunt: “Hey,” back before having to move along for the next cusmtomer. Epic fail.

Oh well I guess in the end I don’t need to go around pledging my alliance to Mobb Deep. I’ll read the book in hopes of getting all the non-politically correct answers that weren’t given to Toure and simply because that’s what a true fan does.

Image via Google