Long before it was figuring into the plotlines of popular shows like Gossip Girl or luring in fresh-faced transplants with false promises of spacious lofts filled with likeminded creative types, Brooklyn was synonymous with the idea of hip-hop style. In Jamel Shabazz’s Back in the Days: Remix, a recently-released expanded edition of the noted photographer’s 2001 book, he theatrically documents the fashion that dominated early days of the scene — from the door-knocker earrings and Cazal glasses to the short shorts and oversized boomboxes.
“He did with pictures what rappers did with words,” hip-hop historian Bill Adler has explained. “He made these folks visible the way rap made them audible. He took everyday people and turned them into icons. Nobody told him to do this. He just went out and struck gold.”
For Shabazz, however, the motivation behind the images was much simpler. “It started for fun, but progressed into making people feel good about themselves,” he told The New York Times. “I’d approach them and say ‘Excuse me, brother. My name is Jamel Shabazz and I’m a photographer. When I see you, I see greatness. I see the future.’” Click through to travel back in time with a selection of images from Shabazz’s fantastic collection, and visit his website for more information on the book and his other work.