“Fifteen minutes away!” Ngonda texted me from what I can only presume to be one of the most physically draining drives of all time. After doing a 10pm set with Young Paris at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto, the three-sister band Loumingou Night drove 9 hours down to Brooklyn to shoot with me here in this studio. I am beyond honored to have shared this experience with them, all thanks to their kindness and diligence.
Loumingou Night is a collective of three sisters: Ngonda, Ntangou and Nkoula Badila. Through years of performing for their parents’ international dance and theatre company, the three have a palpable synchronism that can only be explained by sharp mind-body coordination and sisterly intuitions. They recently released a new record in collaboration with their brother Milandou Badila AKA Young Paris and have performed in venues throughout NYC as a trio. Visit their website to learn more about upcoming tour dates and their many other creative endeavors including textile design, painting and jewelry making.
Born in the Bronx and raised in Brooklyn, Hackquan Sylvester Williams AKA Hack is a writer, performance artist and creative director. Not one to shy away from a camera, he has also served as a visual ambassador for clothing brands such as NY State of Mind and Dope Clothing.
Hack is an undeniably charming individual who knows how to “carry” a room. As soon as we met up on a balmy Saturday afternoon I felt immediately at ease; his charisma and natural confidence made for a seamless shoot, complete with him inadvertently art directing another photo shoot down the street.
As we sat down for a round of drinks he divulged childhood stories about sticky summer commutes to church in East Flatbush, the array of comic books he would write at the tender age of 5, the intuitive history teacher who soon changed his life. The retelling of the stories was as notable as the stories themselves; Hack spoke with wide-eyed passion and vivid accuracy about the formative years of his life.
Aside from directing and modeling for arthouse shoots, Hack is currently recording his EP under the mentorship of Duckdown Production’s co-founder Buckshot. Check out his work here.
Jazz is a classical pianist, violinist, MPH candidate and culture/lifestyle photographer based in Brooklyn. A woman of many talents, Jazz is passionate about redefining the modern narrative on black cultural identity through her photography and musical literacy. She can be seen lugging her Nikon to various hip-hop events and has an impressive clientele including OkayPlayer, The Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival and the legendary Erykah Badu.
In fact, Jazz was literally “hand-picked” by Erykah amidst a crowd of fans at an outdoor event celebrating 25 years of Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing” back in summer of 2014. Was it her aura? The Nikon DSLR dangling from her neck? We will never know. Whatever the case, Erykah pulled Jazz out of the crowd and immediately enlisted her as her personal photographer for the day. This serendipitous encounter led to consequential BTS shoots and Erykah’s appearance in Grillz, one of Jazz’s celebrated photography projects.
Aside from Grillz, Jazz is currently working on a myriad of photo series including Festival Faces, a vivid documentation of eclectic festival goers, and The Public Health Project, a collection of photo essays depicting public health issues such as the “McDonaldization” of the food and fashion industries and occupational hazards in the postindustrial world.
Jazz’s artistic capabilities belie her warm and unassuming personality. We met up on a balmy Saturday evening in Bushwick and shot in and around the neighborhood while geeking out over Debussy and camera gear. The shoot was followed by a round of drinks as the sun fell over the beautifully marred warehouse districts of Bushwick.
Following her stint at George Washington University, Jazz will be permanently relocating back to NYC at the end of this month. We’re lucky to have you back! In the meanwhile, check out her work here and here.
X Black Superheroes is an eclectic hiphop group known for their provocative bass lines and hardbitten lyrics dealing with issues of marginalization and cultural identity. I was privileged enough to spend an evening with them at Funkadelic Studios during one of their intimate rehearsal sessions.
As soon as I entered the studio, I was welcomed by the always lovely Rachel Burrell. Sefu, Tyrone, Real Theme and Baassik warmly acknowledged me as I set up my kit in the cramped quarters. Harsh overhead light illuminated the myriad of dials on the amplifier, the snake-like cables on the floor, the hollows of everyone’s cheeks. We spent the rest of the evening steeped in Rachel and Sefu’s alternating deep tenor vocals.
X Black Superheroes will be performing at The Delancey on 7/31. Check out their Facebook page to find out more.
I first encountered Nkoula and Marcus after shooting with Ntangou. As I passed by the sitting room, I caught a glimpse of the two of them nestled together on the couch, watching TV. Nkoula’s petite frame curled into Marcus’ arms ever so perfectly. We exchanged a couple words, and I left. The entire train ride home I remember kicking myself for not snapping a photo, as they looked so stunning in the fading sun.
Cut to: today. I am so very excited to share with you guys my second ever couples’ shoot with the beautiful Nkoula and Marcus whom I first encountered nearly three months ago. The shoot fell on a quintessential New York summer day where the air hung low, weighed down by humidity and the aroma of scorched asphalt. As usual, Nkoula ushered me into her home with a bright, contagious smile. We continued to shoot right where I saw them first — the sitting room.
Nkoula and Marcus met serendipitously on the beach about a year ago. Marcus, having quit a string of odd jobs to pursue an acting career, was at an interesting juncture in his life. Though he was never particularly keen on beaches, he headed to Rockaway Beach to meet some friends where Nkoula happened to be attending an event. Several events later, they were inseparable.
The chemistry between Nkoula and Marcus is palpable, to say the least. Even during the brief hour that I got to spend with them, I could sense a deep and unwavering friendship beneath the many layers of love and tenderness.
I live for moments like these. No words, no pretense – just raw and unfettered emotion manifested through the intertwining of bodies. My heartfelt thanks to Nkoula and Marcus for letting me into such an intimate corner of their universe.