Celebrated hip-hop photographer, Chi Modu, has died.
He was 54 years old.
The news was first announced on Saturday via Modu’s official Instagram account.
“Our hearts are broken. We continue the fight. The family request privacy at this time,” the brief statement reads.
Modu’s cause of death has not been released to the public.
The Nigerian-born, New Jersey-raised photographer, fell in love with the craft after attending the International Center of Photography in Manhattan. Not long after, The Source magazine hired him. He would go on to shoot more than 30 cover images for the culture’s most prominent publication at the time. Modu is also responsible for delivering some of the most iconic covers for albums.
“For my kind of work, I think empathy is really critical. I’m a documentarian, so I go in with the people. I mean, my hip-hop background is really an example of how I work. I go from people’s neighborhoods to the stage to the studio – every aspect of their lives,” he said in an archived interview with NPR.
“So a documentarian – the only way you can move around in those environments is if you empathize with the people. You don’t necessarily have to be from them. You know, so I don’t think you have to be from the hood to photograph in the hood, but you must understand it.”
Modu has captured some of the greats throughout his career, including Biggie Smalls, Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre, LL Cool J, Mary J. Blige, and more. Modu also shot for several notable music publications such as Rolling Stone, The New York Times, and Jazz Times.
Hip-Hop continues to tribute to one of its most respected photographers on social media.
Rest in power, Chi Modu.