Rediscovered Photographs from New York's 90s Hip-Hop Scene
In the late 90s, Taku Onoda shot everyone from Mos Def to Wu-Tang to Guru.
This article originally appeared on VICE US
Japanese photographer Taku Onoda moved to New York in the late 90s, which seems like a long time ago now. The iconic Limelight club was still open; Wu-Tang Forever had just dropped. Onoda's gritty street style is a perfect complement to the raw, lyrical records coming out of the five boroughs at the time.
When I got these outtakes in my inbox, I was excited to hear where it all started, so I asked a couple questions about the collection of photographs he calls Let's Not Think About Tomorrow.
—Elizabeth Renstrom, VICE Photo Editor
VICE: How did you get involved in the hip-hop community?
Taku Onoda: I've been a longtime hip-hop fan and used to spin records. I would photograph shows that I went to and people that I met, and I ended up meeting people in the industry and was asked to do some press shots.
How did you get access?
I shot for American and French publications. Some of these are outtakes from my assignments. I became friends with some of my subjects, and they became a part of my life.
What photographers were you looking at back then versus now?
Back then, I liked Larry Clark and William Klien's street photographs, and these days, I like more conceptual photographers like Paul Graham and Vik Muniz.
What was the craziest show you saw?
In '99 or '00, Gang Starr and M.O.P at Limelight. It was like 100 degrees in there, but the show was epic.
What are you shooting these days?
Besides commercial assignments, my personal work is about abstraction. I put out a book called Nebulous in 2014, still graphic and strong and in your face.
All photographs taken by Taku Onoda. You can follow his work here.