Hip-hop is undeniably one of the most influential music verticals of all time. Since it flooded the mainstream back in the 80’s, rap artists have become musical icons both domestically and internationally, and there’s no better celebration of hip-hop’s prominence than through Vikki Tobak’s new book, Contact High.

 

This book is a visual homage to rap’s legend-making stamp on society. From iconic figures like Notorious B.I.G, to modern rap successors such as Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, and Tyler, the Creator, this book is filled from beginning to end with profiles and contact contacts of the biggest rappers in the game, all at pivotal moments within their careers. To be frank, it’s a read all rap-philes need to add to their reading lists.

 

“Hip-Hop Is now a multimillion Dollar industry and is very part of our mainstream culture. I was inspired to trace it’s visual identity back to the 70s to tell a deeper story about the photographers who document the culture from the start,” Tobak told COOLS. “People knew what hip-hop sounded like but what did it look like? And who was behind that imagery? By now, the culture has now had enough of a story arc that we’re able to look back on certain photographers and iconography and see that this vast archive of imagery tells an important story. Before hip-hop became popular worldwide, the photographers in this book were  taking pictures and documenting the nascent art form.”
 
“I’ve worked as a culture journalist since the early 1990’s writing about hip-hop and what I noticed was the importance of creating these visuals in tandem to the music. The photographers especially but also the stylists, the designers and the community were so key in creating these powerful images. I grew up loving hip-hop and went on to work at an independent hip-hop label called Payday Records/Empire Management, working with early artists like Gang StarrMos Def, Jeru, Show and AG and that’s where I first met many of the photographers in the book. I was just 19 and all of us were at the start of our careers, the writers, the photographers and many of the artists. “
 
“I visited dozens of photographer archives and realized just how many images are still out there. Some of these photographers hadn’t looked at their contact sheets in years and were surprised at what they saw looking at the outtakes after so many years. These rolls of film, many stored away in shoeboxes and closets were holding iconic moments tucked away, still unprocessed. The in-between shots on the contact sheets tell a deeper story.” 
Below, check out some of the iconic photographs you can expect to see in Contact High.
Uncovered Photos of Rap's Biggest Legends To Be Revealed In New Book 2

Photo: Barron Claiborne/Penguin Random House

Uncovered Photos of Rap's Biggest Legends To Be Revealed In New Book

Photo: Janette Beckman/Penguin Random House

Uncovered Photos of Rap's Biggest Legends To Be Revealed In New Book 1

Photo: Phil Knott/Penguin Random House

Uncovered Photos of Rap's Biggest Legends To Be Revealed In New Book 4

Photo: Danny Clinch/Penguin Random House

Image of Nicki Minaj: Angela Boatwright/Penguin Random House
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