Chi Modu

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Chi Modu
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Born (1966-07-07) July 7, 1966 (age 57)
Arondizuogu, Nigeria
CitizenshipUnited States of America in economics
Alma mater
  • Rutgers University
  • International Center of Photography
  • Photographer
  • Photojournalist
  • Documentarian

Chi Modu (born 1966) is an American documentary photographer of Nigerian descent, renowned for his photographs of hip-hop artists during the 1990’s, the defining years of the hip hop era.[1][2][3] His subjects included Biggie, Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg,[4][5] Mobb Deep, LL Cool J, Mary J. Blige, the Notorious B.I.G. and Wu-Tang Clan.[6][7] His photos are especially notable for the personal and intimate camera angles of the famous music artists.[8][9][10]

Early life and education

Chi Modu was born in 1966 in Arondizuogu, Nigeria. In 1969, when he was two and a half years old, his family left Nigeria in the middle of a civil war to seek refuge in the United States.[9] Modu grew up in New Jersey.[11]

After graduating from The Lawrenceville School in 1984, Modu attended Rutgers University, where he studied economics. He graduated with a in economics in 1989. While still an undergraduate student at Rutgers, he developed an interest in photography and cameras and enrolled in the photojournalism and documentary photography program at the International Center of Photography in New York City soon after, where he received a certificate in 1992.[12]


Modu’s photography career began with him shooting for local papers in New York City, including the New York Amsterdam News[13] and The Source.

The Source

According to WWD, Modu began photographing at The Source magazine "during the defining era of hip-hop in the Nineties"..[5][14] During that period, Modu photographed hip-hop artists including Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J, Mary J. Blige, the Notorious B.I.G and Mobb Deep.[3][8] His work appeared on more than 30 album covers including Snoop’s multi-platinum debut album Doggy Style, Method Man from Wu-Tang Clan’s platinum debut album Tical and Mobb Deep’s classic album The Infamous.[5] Modu worked for the magazine until 1997, and his photographs of celebrities helped define the Source look.[12][9]


In addition to his hip hop images, Modu has traveled the world, documenting the people in countries ranging from Yemen, Syria, Philippines, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Brazil, Thailand, Korea, Nigeria and more. He also documented sportspeople such as Mike Tyson,[15] and sporting events ranging from baseball to car racing.[16] Among his favorite photographers are Roy DeCarava , André Kertész, and James Van Der Zee.[8][1]


In 2013, Modu launched a project called "Uncategorized" with the intention to raise awareness about hip-hop artists and music culture of the 1990s.[11] His work began to appear in the form of gigantic images on the buildings of New York City.[17][5] Eventually, the project became popular and continued in form of exhibitions in many countries. In the summer of 2014, UNCATEGORIZED moved overseas to Finland, where it was the main exhibit at the Pori Art Museum. Later, Modu published a photography book in September 2016 entitled Tupac Shakur: UNCATEGORIZED. Since the book was launched, UNCATEGORIZED has shown up in dramatic new ways in Korea, Thailand, Norway, Brazil, Spain, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, UAE and Nigeria.[18]

In the media



External links

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