It only took three years for Brian Cross to make his mark in America. After moving from Ireland in 1990, the naturally curious Cross researched, wrote, photographed and published It's Not About a Salary, a definitive analysis of Los Angeles' then-exploding hip-hop scene. Like many of the people in his book—Gil-Scott Heron, Ice Cube, DJ Quik—he could have gone in any direction with his talents. Lucky for the world, he chose to go with his camera.
Twenty-five years later, Cross has photographed just about anyone in rap music that matters. Notorious B.I.G. Outkast. Kendrick Lamar. Lauryn Hill, the Roots, MF Doom, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, J. Dilla, Goodie Mob, Ol' Dirty Bastard, and OKAY HOLD UP, I have to stop myself or else we'll be here forever. The point is: Cross has photographed hundreds of rappers, and he's behind many of the definitive photos of each. (For proof, see his excellent 2017 photo anthology Ghost Notes: Music of the Unplayed.)
If you've ever stared into the cover of DJ Shadow's Endtroducing for hours on end, then you've already experienced firsthand B+'s special relationship with the Bay Area. This month, a collection of his early 1990s work from the Bay Area shows at Family Affair gallery on Haight Street: indelible photos of E-40, Blackalicious, Hieroglyphics, Living Legends, the Coup, Too Short, Spice 1, the Invisibl Skratch Piklz, Saafir and many more.
Expect to see a wide array of hip-hop artists you've been listening to for decades, in very young versions of themselves, who've made the Bay Area what it is today.