Tiffany Brown: Illuminating Hip Hop's Shadows

Photography: Tiffany Brown
Words: Natalie Web

Rap music is in a complicated relationship with the world that consumes it.

It is both loved and feared. Often glorified for its grit, and its transgression, it is commoditized by the masses who experience it like a musical excursion into a world they will never live in. 

And in so doing, they are missing its nuance and its elegance. 

Hip Hop has been telling the stories of the Black experience in America since day one. But who is telling the story of the storytellers in Hip Hop?

"Hip Hop is the truest, most indigenous music of Black culture." 

Tiffany Brown is the self-taught photographer and creative force behind JustRock photography. Through her lens, she is documenting the Hip Hop scene, and capturing moments in the lives of Hip Hop artists at close range. 

You may have heard of a few of them--Dave East, Nipsey Hussle, Problem….And maybe there are a few you haven't--Teeezy, Compton Menace (featured in the blockbuster "Straight Outta Compton").

Her roster is long, but the L.A. native is admittedly highly selective about her subjects, and there is a reason for that. In her words: "I don't shoot what I can't connect with." 

Artists like D. Smoke, G. Perico and Nick Grant are some of her favorite muses to shoot right now, due in large part to their dedication to social justice, and uplifting the community. Their approach bears their own unique stamp, which is as distinct as the artists themselves. From calls to action for racial unity, to empowering communities to build long-term wealth through ownership, the message of Black Power resounds within each of them. They share a tie that is woven into the Black experience. And it is that experience that Tiffany brings to light through her images. 

"Photography is my medium to paint my pictures. I write my stories through my photographs."

Each image captures the nuances which often get drowned out by the noise. 

Through her lens, she captures the elegance that goes unseen by consumers looking for their next hit. Her shots bring to light the humanness of her subjects; their openness, the quiet power that gets transmitted in each moment--whether they are captured in the studio, at home, or in a moment of quiet innovation. The story in each image is screaming without making a sound. You just have to know how to listen.