Chi first picked up a camera while a student at Rutgers. After honing his skills at the International Center of Photography, he landed at The Source, which was the definitive magazine of hip hop culture. It was here that Chi developed relationships with the biggest icons of the hip hop movement, including Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G., Mary J. Blige, and L-L Cool J, most of whom were not yet famous.
In addition to shooting over 30 cover photos at The Source, Chi was able to capture the musicians in candid, unexpected moments, due to his disarming manner and unique perspective. His photos include some of the most groundbreaking, memorable images of that era, including Tupac Smoking and Biggie WTC (standing in front of the World Trade Towers). He not only chronicled and defined the most important phase of the hip hop movement, now a global force, he also was able to define the artists and show them as real people, rather than one-dimensional celebrities.
Chi’s unusual background is probably responsible for the unique way he sees and captures the world around him. Born in Nigeria and raised in New Jersey, Chi had to decide at a young age whether to return with his parents to Nigeria or stay behind at boarding school. He chose boarding school, and found himself at Lawrenceville, the prestigious prep school attended by the likes of Michael Eisner and Malcolm Forbes. With his parents on the other side of the world, Chi developed a strong independent streak, which later would manifest itself in his work.
Chi’s most recent project began in August 2013, when massive images of his started appearing on the exterior walls of select NYC buildings, as part of an ongoing installation called Uncategorized.
Chi had been searching for a way to make his art accessible to more people. According to Modu, “The art world tends to be very exclusive and full of obstacles for both the artists and the public. My goal is to make art more inclusive by pulling an end run on the galleries and the museums, breaking down the barriers, and bringing the art directly to the people. Like graffiti, but legal.”
THE DROP STARTS - DECEMBER 24TH AT 9AM PST
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