Lens Legend Janette Beckman On LL COOL J's Rise To Hip Hop Glory

hiphopdx November 17, 2021 hip-hop 4
Lens Legend Janette Beckman On LL COOL J's Rise To Hip Hop Glory

A slice of photographer Janette Beckman's work is featured in her new book, Rebels: From Punk To Dior,her first monograph spanning 40 years of her illustrious career.

T.I. Actually Bought His Atlanta Hood - & Now He's Spreading Affordable Housing Throughout Bankhead 41 Kanye West Tells 'Drink Champs' Signing Big Sean Was The 'Worst Thing' He's Ever Done - Gets Instant Response Janette Beckman From Slick Rick & LL COOL J To Salt-N-Pepa & Run-DMC: Janette Beckman's 'Rebels' Book Has Hip Hop Covered Published on:Nov 17, 2021, 12:30 PM by 0 Exclusive LL COOL Jwasnt famous when London-born photographer Janette Beckman shot his first press photo. Neither was Run-DMC. Nor Salt-N-Pepa. In fact, none of the artists she photographed in the early 80s were the icons they are today. She just had impeccable timing and a flair for taking incredibly impactful photographs. Now based in New York City, where shes lived since 1983, Beckman has an archive that would make any Hip Hop connoisseur drool (and any punk rock/ska enthusiast, for that matter). A slice of Beckmans work is featured in her new book, Rebels: From Punk To Dior, her first monograph spanning 40 years of her illustrious career. A post shared by Janette Beckman (@janettephoto) During a recent interview with HipHopDX, Beckman spoke about her early days working at British newspaper Melody Maker and later, The Face magazine. At the time, she had no idea the people she captured in her photos would become some of the biggest names in the music industry nobody did. All the punk stuff that I was working for a weekly music paper called Melody Maker, she explains. And then there was a magazine called The Face. In this case, I would suggest something like, I want to go to this festival and photograph all the fans, and thats what I would do. So, that is how it happens. And honestly, these people were not famous when I photographed them. That picture of LL COOL J is his first press picture. He must have been like 17 years old or something. The picture of Run-DMC in Hollis is literally 1984, but they werent famous back in the day. So, that was the crazy thing. And actually the picture of Run-DMC was actually an assignment for The Face. A post shared by Janette Beckman (@janettephoto) But word of Beckmans innate talentbegan to spread like wildfire; one opportunity would lead to another and soon, she was the go-to photographer for Hip Hop album covers. I didnt really know who to shoot, she admits. I was just shooting mostly assignments. So, somebody needed a record cover when I took that first picture of Salt-N-Pepa, they didnt even have a record label. We just were shooting them for a British magazine that somehow heard of them. And they were like, Oh, youre nice. Can you be our photographer for our first record? And I was like, OK. And that led to me doing about four different covers for them. So, it just kind of seemed to happen somehow. Timing, truly, was everything. After Kool Herc threw his infamous Back To School jam in 1973, Hip Hop was exploding out of New York City. Beckman landed in the Big Apple when the culture was oozing out of every borough. I think it is timing being the right place at the right time, she says. Because I shot Salt-N-Pepa, then their record company asked me to shoot other people on their label. And I got Dana Dane and everybody. So I suddenly was doing Dana Danes cover. And I just sort of got passed around like, Oh, just send Janette. I got to know the art directors and they knew that if they send somebody over to me, theyd get a decent picture. I think thats kind of what happened. I got really lucky. Thirty-six years later and

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