Seven years ago it was 2003, and if you're not quite convinced that's so far into the past, consider that the Iraq war was in its infancy, American Idol was only on its second run, and Avril Lavigne was killing it on the pop charts. Now that you're feeling ever-grateful it's almost 2011, fast forward to present day when noted Rhymesayers photographer Dan Monick prepares to release a new book that took the better part of the last decade to complete: Seven Years With Atmosphere & Rhymesayers.
[jump] The book documents the local crew's shows, travels, triumphs and challenges during a pivotal time when the mainstream music media really began to recognize the label and its artists as serious contenders on the national scene. When Monick began this project, Atmosphere had broken through with Seven's Travels and Brother Ali's career was hot out of the gate with his Shadows On The Sun debut. One 10th Year Anniversary later and too many sold-out shows to count, the world now knows what the rest of us in the Tundra knew from the start.
To celebrate the milestone, Slug will join Monick at the book's official release at Fifth Element on Thursday, Dec. 16 from 7 to 10 p.m., when you can see (or even buy) some of the photos that appear in Seven. One cool thing to note: The standard 272-page hardcover comes with a 15-track compilation featuring Rhymesayers songs from 2003-2010.
We checked in with Monick as he readies for his work's debut.
Gimme Noise: Do you have a favorite photo that you've taken over the years of the Rhymesayers camp?
Dan Monnick: That's a pretty tough one. I think the image of Sean [Slug] asleep in the backseat of the car on the way to Scribble Jam. It was the first image where I felt like we were beginning to tell a story.
Aside from this book, what's the biggest accomplishment you feel you've achieved from traveling with these guys?
Just work in general. The images I made of them in the beginning is what got me started working in magazines and got the whole ball rolling so to speak. It was great to go to England with them for the first time... to be part of a first with them. That and being there for the 10 year anniversary.
How did you first become connected with them anyway?
My friend Craig had become friendly with Sean. We did a show or two together and I walked up to Sean one night and First Avenue and asked him if he wanted to take some photos sometime. He said "sure." That's about it.
Is there anyone you've not gotten to shoot that you'd love to get in front of your lens?
It's weird, I never really get the "Oh man, I want to shoot them." It's more like when the shoot materializes, I get excited and hope to make the very best of it I can. My style and approach is very reaction based. Not really concept oriented. It's more about walking into or arriving at a situation and seeing what can be pulled from it.
Nearly a decade is a long time to spend with one band. Surely you have a funny story to share?
Any story I am at liberty to share is in the book. I mean the stuff that was the most funny to me was really contextual and or subtle. The stuff that was the most comical to me had to do with this lanky indie rock dude in a cowboy shirt winding up in some of the situations [I was in] with these guys. Besides RSE and everyone, my world is very unattached from hip hop and the fact that I wound up documenting this world as much as I did is really interesting to me. Any time some situation occurs where I find myself going, "How did I get here?" I still text Sean to say "Dude, Arabian Prince just destroyed me in ping pong" just to crack him up.