Contact High: Intimate Looks at some of the Most Iconic Photographs in Hip-Hop

Review of Contact High: A Visual History of Hip-Hop at MoPOP

Written by Teen Writer Ruby Lee and edited by Teen Editor Esha Potharaju

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MoPOP, formerly known as The EMP, has always been the epicenter for all things pop culture, art, and music in Seattle and is constantly showcasing art in innovative ways. Contact High: A Visual History of Hip-Hop is no exception. This exhibit features four decades of hip-hop through film and digital photography, giving visitors a chance to know what photos didn’t make it onto classic album covers and magazine spreads while overall celebrating the culture and craft that is hip-hop.

Rickey Powell’s work welcomes me at the entrance, a magnificent glowing wall with some of Powell’s original slides from the 80s and 90s. Seeing familiar faces like rapper Chuck D of Public Enemy and TV host Oprah excited me for the work ahead. Throughout the first space of the exhibit, contact sheets (a preview of all the images on the roll of film), framed prints, and magazine spreads tell magnificent stories. It was at this moment that I understood “visual history” to be a completely accurate description of the exhibition.

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