This shot is really tightly composed and cinematic in the way it’s lit. What was your intention there?
There is a great confidence in this shoot, it’s pure shadows and volume. And I was using lights from the hardware store. 3 large bulbs, harsh and simple. The bulbs cast these amazing shadows. And LL even asked me ”why aren’t you using those lights that flash” and I was like “I don’t know how to use them.”
So style played a big part in what you were going for?
Style was a big part of everything back then. I think I was the first person to show up in the Bronx with doc martens and a black trench coat. My mother was livid but she got used to it.
Being of Jamaican descent growing up in the Bronx, how did you feel around identity and duality, being of both an immigrant and from around the way?
My parents wanted to move back to Jamaica at some point and we would go several times a year. My dad owned a small bodega in the South Bronx. Living in the Bronx, people kept telling me I had “the look,” but as soon as you open your mouth it doesn’t work. I was part of an immigrant family and I was negotiating this duality. My parents never lost touch with Jamaica and have homes in both places. My mom knew Slick Rick’s mom and she had organized a concert for Slick Rick in Jamaica.
Your mom seems like one cool lady. So you and Slick Rick had that connection?
Slick Rick sold me a peacoat, and he was pretty saavy. I remember, it was a grey peacoat. I don’t know if he found it or whatever (laughs). A few weeks later, He saw me in the street and he’s mocking me like, “mommy, do you like my coat?”