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George Dubose - "I Speak Music: Hip-Hop"

A handful of years ago I was lucky enough to art direct and design a series of re-issue music packages from the Cold Chillin' Records catalog. Part of that gig included involving the original art director and music photography legend George Dubose. George and I established a great working repport and personal relationship. So great, in fact, that he asked me to write an introduction testimonial for one of his many books "I Speak Hip-Hop: Old School Vol. 1." It also appears in his "The Big Book of Hip-Hop Photography." With the launch of House of Roulx and our feature collection containing George's most iconic images I felt the need to dig this up and share it again to illustrate the respect and admiration I have for this man and his work.

"George Dubose did not just take photographs of some of Hip Hop’s historic elite, he captured the essence of their sound and brought their characters to life. His lens introduced us to the zany antics of Biz Markie, showed us the masterful prowess of Big Daddy Kane and brought the bitch out of Roxanne Shante. He was one of the first people to let such individualism jump off of the wax and onto the front cover. He introduced the idea of elaborate costumes and wardrobes, environments and props; he brought art direction and style to the world of Rap, previously dominated by an artist or group photographed standing in front of a brick wall or generic cityscape. The “Black Ceasar” Kane shoot, the “Juvenile Hell” where a sickle totting Mobb Deep dwelled or G Rap and Polo‘s “Noosed Narcs” all come to mind. I think this is what caught my attention as a youngster as I gravitated to any release with that beloved Cold Chillin’ logo printed on the back. It wouldn’t be until a few years later that I recognized that the same man had not only shot all these beautiful, vibrant images, but actually art directed and designed all the print for the projects. No wonder they stand as such a legacy, both then and now up to twenty years later. I feel strongly that the images and overall look help solidify the classic status of these albums just as much as the press, publicity and the radio play. Looking back on it, these conceptual, innovative covers paved the way for a new design standard as Hip Hop music journeyed into it’s toddler and teenage stages. When I was ten years old I wanted to be like Biz Markie. When I was fifteen years old I wanted to be like Kool G Rap. Now that I am in my thirties I realize all these years later, I really wanted to be like George Dubose. 

It is a honor to be asked to write this. Thank you Dub!"

- Trevor