He embodied the rise of a new style, attitude and emotional intelligence that would capture the attention of a fan base in search of a fresh take on hip hop. Eighteen years on, he has expanded his repertoire from rapper to actor to style icon to social activist and beyond. As a self-propelled and multidimensional artist, he’s part of the new breed of rapper.
Veteran photographer and hip-hop devotee Mike Schreiber, whose acclaimed 2010 book True Hip Hop documented the frontrunners of the movement and who first photographed Bey in 1998, has caught up with him over the years in New York, Paris and in cities across the world. For this series, the pair linked up in the idyllic setting of Cape Town, South Africa, a city Bey has called home for the past year, a place where the landscape is an intoxicating mural of natural beauty and urban bustle.
‘Yasiin is an artist, that’s his thing. He does his work and doesn’t get caught up the way some other people seem to,’ said Schreiber.
‘He gets nothing but love in Cape Town. You, know, there were a couple of times where we’d be having a meal together and a dude would just roll up and sit down next to him and start telling him his story.’
For their next collaboration, Schreiber and Bey are working on a show with Stockholm-based design group Uniforms for the Dedicated, a high-calibre line of ethically focused, sustainable clothing. Said Schreiber, ‘We have a history together and I have a lot of shots of him from the Lyricist Lounge days up until now. I will say it’s been cool to reconnect as 40-year-olds who’ve established themselves, compared to 25-year-olds who were on the hustle.’
The extra years suit them both.