Chi Modu, Famed Hip-Hop Photographer, Dies at 54

Famed hip-hop photographer Chi Modu has died at the age of 54. The news broke via his social media accounts. “Our hearts are broken… We continue the fight,” reads a tweet. “The family request privacy at this time.” No cause of death has been revealed.

The Nigeria-born, New Jersey-bred artist is best known for snapping the iconic black and white, shirtless photo of Tupac Shakur with his hands raised to his head, shrouded in a cloud of cigarette smoke. In 2016, he published a book of photos called Tupac Shakur: Uncategorized, which documented the period of their meeting in 1994 until six months before the rapper’s death in 1996.


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In the ’90s, Modu became the director of photography for the storied hip-hop magazine The Source, where he shot more than 30 covers during that time. In addition to Tupac, Modu’s subjects included Biggie Smalls, Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J, Ice Cube, Diddy, Dr. Dre, Q-Tip, Mac Miller and Mary J Blige. His photography was also featured on album covers for Snoop Dogg, Method Man and Mobb Deep. After his time with The Source, Modu worked for Rolling Stone and the New York Times.


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