Busta, Rakim, Wyclef, Others Captured In “Great Day In Hip-Hop” Documentary

Hip-hop fans who wish they could have been in Harlem last year for the history-making photo session that resulted in the “Great Day In Hip-Hop” cover of “XXL” magazine will soon get the chance to experience the shoot through a new documentary.

Directed and executive-produced by author Nelson George and conceived by former editor-in-chief of “XXL” Sheena Lester, the documentary features Rakim, Fat Joe, Slick Rick, Busta Rhymes, Mos Def, Goodie M.O.B., E-40, Grandmaster Flash, Da Brat, Debbie Harry, Wyclef, Shaquille O’Neal, and others of the 177 rap heavyweights who turned up for the photo shoot on September 29, 1998. The film will first roll out on a national tour of urban schools early next year and will air on HBO in June as part of Black Music Month.

The photo (shot by photographer Gordon Parks) was an fresh take on Art Kane’s famous jazz pictorial, “A Great Day In Harlem,” which graced the cover of “Esquire” in 1958. That shot brought together 57 jazz icons like
Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonius Monk, and Sonny Rollins on a stoop on New York’s 125th Street, while last year’s “Great Day In Hip-Hop” shot used the very same brownstone as the setting for its shot.

– John Gill,with additional reporting byRobert Mancini