(AllHipHop News) Joe Conzo was only a teenager when he began taking pictures of the rap group The Cold Crush Brothers in the 1970’s. The amateur photographer had no idea he was actually capturing history as a new culture that came to be known as Hip Hop was being birthed.
In a new feature in The Daily Mail, Conzo talks about his early years in the Bronx music, art, and political scenes at the time Hip Hop was taking shape.
“These were friends of mine, I grew up with them and went to school with them, and these are kids that took Hip Hop from the Bronx to Manhattan to London,” said Conzo.
Conzo was raised in a family that appreciated diverse music and was also very politically conscious. His grandmother was a community activist and his father was the former manager for Tito Puente.
As a result, Conzo’s photography extended beyond just Hip Hop artists to include the greater culture of The Bronx at the time.
“When I wasn’t capturing my Hip Hop buddies, I was taking photos of Tito Puente, Celia Cruz. And of political things that happened in the community, like the Fort Apache protests, taking photos of Paul Newman,” said Conzo.
Conzo admits that he later struggled with drug addiction, but luckily his mother saved those early negatives. They resurfaced about ten years ago. Conzo is now 20 years sober and still taking pictures in his hometown and around the world.
You can discover more of Joe Conzo’s work in his 2007 book Born in the Bronx: A Visual Record of the Early Days of Hip Hop available at amazon.com.
Check out some of Conzo’s photographs in the slideshow below.