XXL’s A Great Day in Hip Hop

XXL’s A Great Day in Hip Hop

Michael Gonzales takes a look back at the circumstances behind one of rap music’s greatest magazine covers on its 16th anniversary. Back in 1991, when I was in my late 20s, I was good friends with a talented photographer named Alice Arnold. A short white chick from California, she knew more about jazz than most black people our age, including me. Alice schooled me on the design of classic Blue Note album covers, the music of Charles Mingus, and the pictures of various photographers. One evening, while chilling in her Lower East Side apartment, she asked me if I had ever seen Art Kane’s photograph “A Great Day in Harlem.” Although I’d been raised on those uptown streets, I was ashamed to admit that I had no idea what she was talking about. However, when Alice showed me the reproduction of Kane’s picture, I realized it was the same image I’d seen for years in Harlem barbershops, bookstores, and record shops. [via Redbull Music Academy]