Twenty-four years ago today, an independent Hip-Hop magazine called XXL pulled off the unimaginable. The haters said it couldn’t be done. To the contrary, not only was it accomplished, but it was met with wonder and bewilderment to all those in attendance. There was no IG Live to broadcast from the palm of ones hand. Either you were there … or you weren’t. And 24 years later, if you were not present, you remember why you weren’t. Legendary documentarian of Hip-Hop Culture, Ralph McDaniels recently stated that he knew exactly where he was: “I had to be in LA that day so I had to miss it.” The Greatest Day In Hip-Hop History was historical for the Culture and remains one of the greatest photographic moments of our time — an image captured one of the greatest photographers in history — Mr. Gordon Parks. Sheena Lester, the EIC of XXL made it happen with a determination driven by pure passion — which led to an amazing magical and unforgettable day. You can read her first hand account of organizing the epic photo shoot in her legendary essay entitled, “The Game Changer”, which was first published by RESPECT. to pay tribute to the 20th anniversary of the iconic magazine cover. 177 artists graced the 4-page never-been-done-before gatefold cover of XXL , and the entire staff and everyone participating was astonished.
Let’s not forget the about luminaries of Jazz that made the original image a reality, taken in August of 1958 on 126th Street, in front of the same brownstones (although Gordon’s photo required 3 stoops, where the original image utilized one). The legendary Art Kane conceptualized and captured the original photo for Esquire magazine for the Golden Age of Jazz edition. Both the Jazz and Hip-Hop images capture the harmony, love and elation of these unique talents gathering on a very rare occasion in a how of solidarity of their music and culture.
Contact sheet by Gordon Parks
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