“This is the 40 year anniversary of hip-hop culture and because of that, I wanted to honour that through the variety of people that have documented it,” says camera veteran, Che Kothari.

Ten years of photography from one man and 40 years of hip-hop culture have combined to create an exhibit sure to commemorate how far the art form has come with timeless pieces and iconic work.

Pharrell, Outkast, Beastie Boys, Tupac, Biggie, Jay-Z. Photos of the legends will hang on the walls of Toronto’s Gladstone Hotel starting May 2, telling the stories of each of the artists, the photographers behind them and the evolution of hip-hop through the captured moments in time, spanning four decades.

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Photographer greats such as Jonathon Mannion, Steve Carty, Matt Barnes, Jamel Shabazz and plenty more will contribute to their work, adding depth to such renowned pieces.

“The way in which they’ve documented the culture, the style in which they’ve documented it, these are iconic frames and seconds and moments that have captured people. I’ve got a shot in this of Jay-Z when he was 17 years old with gold grills [by Ernie Paniccioli] to him decked out in a suit with a scarf and a top hat by Jonathon Mannion, so you see the range and the evolution of the individual and the fact that you can share all of that through the styling and the way that we have created these prolific images,” Kothari says.

Legendary photographer and speaker, Brother Ernie Paniccioli, is passionate about the culture of hip-hop beyond any entertainment value and urges viewers to look beyond the glamour and sleek style of each shot in order to find the depth behind it. His clout and position as an elder in the community has granted him the ability to speak so freely and passionately about his contribution to it.

“I created the job title of hip-hop photographer,” Paniccioli says. “No one has been an integral part of hip-hop as I have amongst any of those photographers. To me, hip-hop is more than just an art form. Hip-hop is the voice of the voiceless and hip-hop came from the streets. Hip-hop allowed us to be seen as something other than entertainment.”

With music from DJs Mel Boogie, Mastermind, Wristpect and DJ Law, the 40 Years of Hip-Hop Photography exhibit is set to be a celebration of #40Years and the start of 40 more.

Words By. Samantha O’Connor

Photo of Questlove by Che Kothari. Photo of the Notorious B.I.G. by Ernie Panniccioli.