If you’ve seen Baz Luhrmann’s hotly debated Netflix series The Get Down, you may have noticed a character, fresh dressed in 70’s uptown street style, taking pictures in the background. When researching The Get Down, which chronicles the very beginnings of hip hop in the late 1970s, Luhrmann and his crew looked to Conzo’s 10,000-strong image archive for inspiration. They were so inspired, they wrote a character around him. You see, Conzo was that teenage kid with the little point and shoot camera capturing the early hip hop years that emanated energy and style emerging in the South Bronx.
Conzo, who the New York Times dubbed “the man who took hip hop’s baby pictures,” photographed the Cold Crush brothers when they were all still in high school together attending South Bronx High School. An influential early hip hop group which included DJs Charlie Chase and Tony Tone and MCs Grandmaster Caz, JDL, Easy AD, and Almighty KayGee, Cold Crush took Conzo to document their live performances at clubs including the Disco Fever and Harlem World. Those early shots, innocent and authentic while also telling for their pose and posturing, earned Conzo the reputation as Cold Crush’s “official” photographer while also laying the groundwork for hip hop visual history and the stories they tell.