Heart of Hip Hop: Photographs by Joe Conzo, Jr.

August 2023 marks 50 years of Hip-Hop, a culture that brings together music, technology, spoken word, dance, people, and more. Hip-Hop was born in the Bronx borough of New York City. Joe Conzo, Jr. was there to capture it, taking photographs of DJs, B(reaker)-Girls and B-Boys, and the crowds who gathered to experience a new genre being birthed.

Conzo was born and raised in the Bronx and began taking photographs at an early age. In 1978, he befriended the pioneering Hip-Hop group, Cold Crush Brothers, joining them for live performances at legendary venues.

His photographs document the excitement of new sounds and new movements. Conzo captured the essence of Hip-Hop, shown in this selection of photographs taken between 1979 and 1982, a foundational period in Hip-Hop. The grouping includes a self-portrait of the artist and reflections of the Bronx, DJing, breaking, and identity. Conzo explains he was “documenting his surroundings.” In doing so, he captured the heart of Hip-Hop as it began to beat.

Don’t miss the special exhibition of six of Conzo’s photographs on view in the Lynn Herrick Sharp Gallery for contemporary art through the end of 2023. It is supported by Allhiphop.com, Guerrilla Republik, and a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.

DJ Charlie Chase and Grandmaster Caz, Norman Thomas High School, 1981. Joe Conzo Jr. (born 1963). Digital print, 16 x 20 inches. Joe Conzo Archives. © Joe Conzo Jr.