Legendary hip-hop photographer Chi Modu dies at 54

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Chi Modu, one of the most famous photographers in hip-hop history, documenting iconic shots from the 1990s, is dead.

Born in Nigeria and raised in New Jersey, Modu 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 preparatory school attended by the likes of Michael Eisner and Malcolm Forbes.

With his parents on the other side of the world, Modu developed a strong independent streak, which later would manifest itself in his work.

An Instagram post announced the sad news on Saturday, with a caption that read, “Our hearts are broken… We continue the fight. The family request privacy at this time.” It was accompanied by a photo of him and his lifespan in the years; 1966-2021.

However, the details surrounding his death were not released.
Modu had photographed one of the most memorable batches of photos as it pertains to music; shooting a variety of rappers in the ’90s, which went on to grace the covers of memorable albums, as well as T-shirts and stills for years to come.

He is perhaps best known for photographing rap artistes, Prodigy and Havoc of Mobb Deep for the cover of their 1995 album, ‘The Infamous’ … but he might be just as known for his black and white photo of a shirtless Tupac, with his hands up near his head and cigarette smoke blowing, TMZ reports.

There are countless other legendary artists in his repertoire, including The Notorious B.I.G., Snoop Dogg, Nas, Diddy, LL Cool J, Wu-Tang Clan, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Mary J. Blige, Busta Rhymes, Dr. Dre, Ice-T, Run-DMC, Q-Tip, Gang Starr, Geto Boyz, Redman, Dead Prez, Eminem, Fat Joe, Kris Kross, Mac Miller, Ty Dolla $ign, Common and Flavor Flav.

He started at The Source and was tasked with getting in with these acts that were bubbling at the time. Sure enough, they gave him unprecedented access to document their work, lifestyles, and their most intimate moments. All the photos made for sick shots, which goes without saying.

His photojournalism went beyond just hip-hop. Modu traveled the world and snapped a wealth of pictures in countries all over Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

Modu’s contribution to photography and music culture is unparalleled and his death is shocking.

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