RubyHornet has linked up with photographer Mireya Acierto, a very accomplished photographer that has documented a large portion of Chicago Hip Hop over the last several years. Intended to celebrate both her work, as well as Chicago’s Hip Hop achievements, we present “Chicago The Photo Album Photo Album”, a look at some of her most notable shots and the stories behind them. We kicked the series off with some shots of Lupe Fiasco (click here) and continue the series with some flicks of two Chicago Hip Hop heavyweights, Common and Bump J. While both hail from Chicago’s South side, Common and Bump seem to occupy different spots for Hip Hop heads. Their subject matter shares certain elements, but perhaps the dividing line is their perspective on the matters, as Common offers a voice and critique of society ills, while Bump J writes from position of someone actually participating in them. Find out how they came to meet for these pics, why they’re in front of Cabrini Green, and more straight from Mireya.
I took this photo for Mass Appeal magazine right after I got back from living in NY. It was my first hip hop assignment in Chicago and I was kind of nervous since it was Common. I wasn’t as familiar with Bump J but I knew he must be up there since he was performing with Kanye and Common at the House of Blues. Common’s manager requested that I photograph them close to their hotel so the only place I could think of during our conversation was Navy Pier. The shoot was totally awkward and I knew I didn’t get the shot. Afterwards, Common asked what I thought and I told him I did my best with what I had. I knew I could have done better but I wasn’t going to ask to photograph him the next day. I knew he was a busy guy so I accepted what I had done. Luckily, he and I talked for a moment and he suggested we shoot the next morning. Bump J agreed. I was so gracious cause I knew what I had to do the next day was make magic.
Common suggested some place more hood. The only place I could think of was Cabrini Green. Being from the North Side, Cabrini Green was the “hood”. For a split second I thought of how people would react, how the gangs would react, worried about the artist’s safety, worried about Bump J’s choice of colors, etc., etc. To my surprise, the people in the area were not as star struck as I had imagined nor did they care about what we were doing. They walked up casually to Bump J & Common, saying how much they supported their music, shook their hands, smiling as they walked to the store. It was all so casual that it made the shoot that much more wonderful. For some reason I got a 2nd chance to photograph them but I knew I may never have that happen again. I knew from that point on I had to take every photo opportunity as it’s last.