Cree photographer, artist, author and activist Ernie Paniccioli has been bringing us photos of the hugest names from the Old School of Hip-hop era and other icons in the world of entertainment for three decades and still bringing it full force.
When we think of the Old School era of Hip-hop, certain names like Slick Rick, Grandmaster Flash, Rock Steady Crew, Doug E. Fresh, Ice Cube, Queen Latifah, Public Enemy, Salt-N-Pepa, and so many more come to mind. Aside from the stars on stage that bring us the music we bump to, there are people behind the scenes that bring us the vision of all of this. One of these people is Ernie Paniccioli.
Ernie’s adventure into the world of Hip-hop starts in 1973 where he and a 35-millimetre camera started to document the graffiti culture of New York. From there he has brought us images of a developing artform from the streets of New York to the multi-billion dollar industry as all know so well. When reading through Ernie’s accomplishments as a photographer, it reads like a who’s who of Hip-hop history. All the places Hip-hoppers have dreamed of being in the early days of the craft, Ernie was there to witness and bring the images to life for posterity.
Not only is Ernie regarded as the premiere “Hip-hop photographer in America”, he is also a renowned artist, author, activist and public speaker, sharing his knowledge at universities and forums around Turtle Island. He was chosen by Hip-hop legend KRS-One to speak on behalf of the Temple Of Hip-hop to the United Nations at the Hip-hop Peace Summit in May of 2001.
As the Chief photographer of Word Up! Magazine since 1989 and when Biggie Smalls was still reading it, he has been the eyes of the Hip-hop movement since before some of the newest Hip-hoppers were even born. His work has appeared in publications like The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, Life, Rolling Stone, Spin, Vibe, Ebony, and The Source and XXL Magazine. Outside being a Hip-hop photographer, he has photographed people such as Frank Sinatra, Liza Minelli, and John F. Kennedy, Jr. and Britney Spears just to name a few.
As a member of the Hip-hop institution entitled the Universal Zulu Nation and the Temple of Hip-hop, he has gained acclaim from the Grandmaster himself, Afrika Bambaataa who had this to say about him:
“We the Hip Hop World Nation and Beyond Earth must always respect our brother for what he has offered to our World Hip Hop Nation and that is his science of taking fantastic pictures of our Hip Hop World. All praise Due to the Supreme Force for our warrior, father, thinker, teacher, speaker, historian, powerful photographer. The Hip Hop Photo King”
In today’s world of commercialized Hip-hop industry, we are quick to lose touch with the roots of where this art came from that we all appreciate so much. It’s amazing to have the documentation and knowledge from someone like Brother Ernie Paniciolli to keep these days of purity before corporations were watching accessible for people to learn from.
For an extensive look into Brother Ernie’s career, check out this link below:
The Ernie Paniccioli Fan Club
Here’s a video portfolio of some of Ernie’s work: