For her first solo exhibition in Germany, Bronx-born photographer Lisa Leone presents ‘How You Like Me Now?’ at HVW8 Berlin. The selected photographs share her unique, enviable experiences at the forefront of what could be described as hip-hop’s golden era of the 80s and 90s. Leone’s work is the preservation and celebration of a movement, and an insight into the final period before hip-hop’s mainstream cultural influence and global expansion.
‘How You Like Me Now?’ is a personal hall of fame, portraying both the intimacy and empire of hip-hop. Leone has captured the young and endearing faces of Grandmaster Flash, Mary J Blige, KRS-One, Snoop Dogg and Biggie. On a Harlem rooftop, we see Lauryn Hill and Wyclef Jean sharing a moment in the midst of filming the video for The Fugees single ‘Vocab’. The notion of Leone in the middle of something special shines through every image, particularly in her candid shot of Nas in the studio, recording what would go on to be his iconic album ‘Illmatic’: her photograph is said to be the only existing visual documentation of this studio session.
As a rarely exhibited collection, Leone’s ‘pre-fame’ photographs of hip-hop’s favourite faces capture the creative spirit that decisively shaped the culture. ‘How You Like Me Now?’ is inherently captivating, particularly for a viewer today, who is aware of the significance these moments were to hold. We recommend you accept Leone’s invitation to discover the now-legendary artists in their formation.